Parks Canada says no need to rush to get free P.E.I. park pass

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 11, 2017

Tara McNally MacPhee, manager of visitor experience for the P.E.I. National Park, said demand is up for passes to the park. But, she also stressed that the entry fee will be free for all year and that the public should be in no rush to pick up a pass.

©TC MEDIA/Dave Stewart

Parks Canada says demand for free passes to the National Park in P.E.I. is up significantly.

Staff members want the public to know there is no rush to pick up their pass.

As part of the Canada 150 celebrations this year, Parks Canada is waiving the entry fee for the National Park, making it free to enter the National Park all year.

Tara McNally MacPhee, manager of visitor experience for the National Park in P.E.I., told The Guardian on Tuesday that there is a lot of confusion in regards to the free passes.

“It’s free now and it’s going to be free in May and in June, July and August — whenever they come,’’ McNally MacPhee said. “Whether they have a pass now or not, it’s going to be free.

“I think people are in a terrible hurry to get their pass now. Maybe they think there is a deadline. There is no deadline; not at all.”

It’s free now and it’s going to be free in May and in June, July and August — whenever they come. Whether they have a pass now or not, it’s going to be free. Tara McNally MacPhee

Since Jan. 3, Parks Canada in P.E.I. has shipped out 400 free passes, and the demand is such that supply can’t keep up. McNally MacPhee didn’t have numbers from past years to compare, but she said it’s unusual for Parks Canada to be selling passes this early in the year.

Whether people order now or wait until the parks actually open, McNally MacPhee stresses entry will be free.

“They can come to the park at any time after the gates open and pick up a pass on their first visit, their first trip in and then just hang on to their pass for the rest of the season. There is no deadline and there is no hurry.’’

Passes can be picked up at Ardgowan in Charlottetown or ordered online.

She said many people are ordering passes in bulk.

Problem is, they’ve only got supplies based on the number of passes they normally issue at this time of year.

“We don’t have an unlimited supply right now. We have to order some more, so if people want to get a lot of them we encourage them to do it online and they’ll be shipped directly to their house (and) there is no cost at all.’’

McNally MacPhee said people who ordered passes weeks ago and haven’t received them have been calling.

“There is a bit of a backlog because more people than we anticipated have been ordering all at once, but they will come.’’

McNally MacPhee hopes Islanders, for example, who don’t normally visit the parks because of the fee will give the National Park a try this year.

The entry fee for Green Gables National Historic Site in Cavendish has also been waived for 2017.

But, it should be noted that while the entry fee has been waived for 2017, normal fees for activities such as camping inside the park are still in effect.

McNally MacPhee said Parks Canada will have additional staff on duty to handle the expected increase in traffic.

dave.stewart@tc.tc

Twitter.com/DveStewart