Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Provincial park pass required for Folk Fest

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GOING to the folk fest?

Don't forget your provincial park pass if you're driving.

Winnipeg Folk Festival organizers say that's they best way to avoid a long lineup at the main gate of Birds Hill Provincial Park when the festival opens for its 40th year July 10.

It also follows a weekend of confusion by park users who found the main gate off Highway 59 empty with a sign telling them to go to the park office to buy their pass.

A provincial spokeswoman said Tuesday that due to circumstances beyond the park's control, a number of unplanned vacancies reduced staffing at Birds Hill Park this past long weekend.

"Unfortunately, these vacancies coincided with a very busy summer long weekend," she said. "As a result of this situation, a decision was made by enforcement staff to not ticket people without passes at this park. There were some tickets issued for parking violations."

A survey found other provincial park main gates unstaffed over the holiday weekend, including Whiteshell Provincial Park. The gates at Grand Beach Provincial Park were staffed.

Folk Festival spokeswoman Margaret Koshinsky said the organization has been warning its patrons that they need vehicle permits this year.

"We're encouraging our ticket holders to get a permit ahead of time," she said, adding festival organizers have been told by the province the main gate will be staffed when the four-day festival opens.

The province says park vehicle permits must be displayed year-round in provincial parks. Permits are available at all campground and district offices and most businesses that sell fishing and hunting licences and camping supplies. An annual pass costs $40 (good until April 30, 2014), a three-day pass is $12 and a day pass is $5.

Fees will be waived for Canada's Parks Day July 19-21 and for the September Long Weekend Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

The province reinstated park fees a year ago after three years of having entrance fees waived. Revenue goes towards maintaining and upgrading park amenities.

The fine for not having a park pass is $70, reduced to $25 if paid between day one and 15.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2013 A5

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