The Gatineau Park is one of the epicentres for cycling in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, especially for people who like to do some training rides. However, there are embryonic indications that the NCC may be getting ready to start charging a fee to cycle in the park.
According to a CBC report, the NCC wants to charge more people to use the park, and to raise more revenues through park fees. Apparently, the NCC is particularly concerned about the inequality between fees for different activities and different types of users. All this suggest that the NCC is looking for ways to charge people who now use the Gatineau Park for free, including the large number of cyclists who visit the park every summer.
It also seems that the NCC is looking into way to better control access to the park. This could easily lead to the idea of installing booths at various access points to control the people entering the park and to charge admissions fees. The problem with booths is that they can be expensive to build, maintain, and staff. These booths would have to cover their own costs in addition to whatever revenue they can generate for the NCC. Even if new admittance fees only applied to cars, with these booths in place, it would only be a matter of time before someone decided that cyclists also have to pay to use the park.
It’s possible that not all cyclists will object to some sort of fee structure, especially if it means fewer cars driving through the park. Some fitness buffs who cycle into the park 3 or 4 times a week may be okay with the idea of a reasonably priced season’s pass. However, having to pay an admittance fee would likely not sit well with people who like to cycle in the park on an occasional basis to escape the city’s urban environment.
Whatever the case, any new fee structure for the park is probably a few years away, as the NCC is still in the process of hiring a consultant to make recommendations on the matter.
Parkways to be closed to motorists at night.
On a separate, but related matter, the NCC has decided that the main roads in the Gatineau Park will be closed to motorists at night this summer (from about 30 minutes after sunset until about 8 AM the next day) .
This is good for cyclists. In recent years the park had become a real zoo after sunset with an increasing number of young people racing their cars around the park in an uncontrollable manner. Skid marks and donut patterns left on the pavement all attest to this, and it seems that almost every year one or two of these young people would kill themselves in an accident in the park. It was getting so bad that cyclists would be taking their lives into their hands if they rode in the park in the dark. Now cyclist will be able to take an evening ride into the park without having to worry about their safety if they get caught having to ride back after sunset. This will be handy when the days are shorter in early spring and fall.