April 17, 2024

Springswines

The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

Holiday Beach seasonal campers upset over $500 fee increase

3 min read
Holiday Beach seasonal campers upset over 0 fee increase

A seasonal camper at the Holiday Beach Conservation Area says she’s trying to sell her camping trailer because she’s facing a $500 fee increase.

The base rate for seasonal fees at the conservation area’s Marshview Seasonal Campground has risen from $2,460 in 2023 to $2,960 story for 2024.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) board of directors approved the change at its Sept. 14 meeting.

A River Town Times article published six days later was how seasonal camper Dale Lee says she first found out about the rate increase, calling it infuriating.

A woman wearing a grey sweater and glasses pulling a waste tank
Dale Lee is pulling her waste tank to get emptied. She says comparing the public Holiday Beach Conservation Area to private campgrounds does not justify a $500 increase in seasonal fees to stay at Holiday Beach. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

As part of the fee, campers are allowed to park trailers on a specific lot for the season and take advantage of a private bathroom and laundry building.

Campers were first notified about the rate increase in a letter issued to them by ERCA dated Sept. 29.

Some campers say they cannot afford the new fee. As a result, Lee and others are having to try and sell their trailers before the end of the month. The conservation area closes for the season on Monday.

Campers who cannot sell their trailer by then will have to pay a winter storage fee of $254.25, according to the letter.

“[Seasonal camping is] more geared to the older generation,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who are on pensions and stuff.”

A white trailer with a for sale sign taped to the front
A trailer on a seasonal camping lot at the Holiday Beach Conservation Area that is for sale. Seasonal camper Dale Lee says a $500 increase in fees mean campers like her can no longer afford to stay there during the spring and summer. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

The Holiday Beach campground is the only campground in Windsor-Essex that sits on public land that is owned by the province. The remaining seven campgrounds are all privately owned.

The letter issued to campers and an ERCA report, say the 2024 fee for Holiday Beach is lower than the average rate of the private campgrounds.

However, it is only $20 cheaper than the seasonal fee for the least expensive campground; Sturgeon Woods Campground, which costs $2,980.

Windsor Morning6:09Holiday Beach camping

Dale Lee, a long-time camper, speaks with CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa about an increase in camping fees.

The board approved fee increases of $150 in 2021 and $200 in 2022 and 2023 for Holiday Beach.

According to Lee, the private campgrounds have more amenities, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and enhanced security.

“We understand that fees have to go up,” says Lee.”$500 was excessive and comparing [the public campground] to private campgrounds is not a fair assessment.

“That’s not apples to apples, that’s apples to oranges.”

A blue sign for a conservation area saying it will close on October 16
Holiday Beach Conservation Area will be closing for the season this Monday. Seasonal campers have until the end of the month to try and sell their trailers on their lots or they will risk paying a winter storage fee to keep it there. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

Regarding the fee increase, ERCA Chief Administrative Officer Tim Byrne says he sympathizes with the campers, but that ERCA’s hands were tied.

“With the passage of Bill 23 by the province, we received instructions [which says] there can be no tax money, no levy money going into the operation of that park,” he said. “The conservation authority doesn’t own that park. It manages that park on behalf of the province.”

Byrne says they are exploring other options to make up the shortfall in revenue lost as a result of the provincial legislation, including pursuing government grants and attempting to take ownership of the conservation area.

A man in a jacket outside a building.
Tim Byrne is the CAO of the Essex Region Conservation Authority. He says they had no choice but to increase the seasonal camping fees at Holiday Beach Conservation Area because Bill 23 forbids tax dollars to be spent there. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

But Lee says ERCA should have consulted campers before making the call.

“ERCA could have come to us and said, ‘We’re in a jam’,” she said. “‘Bill 23 doesn’t let us use taxpayer money anymore. We’re going to increase your fees over the next three years.'”

Lee also says advance notice would have allowed seasonal campers such as herself to have more time to decide if they want to or can afford to stay.