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LETTER: User fee would not benefit botanic park at all

"We are a botanic garden, not a play or picnic park, and do not provide equipment for those activities."

Re: "It's time to charge user fees for St. Albert's amenities," Letters, June 23.

In response to the letter, I noted the inclusion of the St. Albert Botanic Park. I would like to provide information on the park that many residents may not be aware of. The park site has been leased from the city since 1990 and for that we are appreciative. The botanic park is a registered non-profit, charitable society, governed, operated, and maintained entirely by volunteers, with the exception of two summer students who help in our gift shop and office. The student salaries are paid by the park – they are not employees of the city. 

If the city charged an entrance fee or user fee for the botanic park, it would bring in funds for the city, but it would not benefit the park at all. We do not receive an annual allowance from the city. We pay for our plants and trees, equipment, office and washroom supplies, fuel for operating tools and equipment, etc. Our revenue comes from donations, rentals in our building and the rose garden, sales in the gift shop, and plant sales. We are fortunate to be scheduled to work a casino once every two or three years and the park is sometimes successful with grant applications for larger projects.  

We are a botanic garden, not a play or picnic park, and do not provide equipment for those activities. Our mission has always been to trial plant material to show what will grow successfully in hardiness Zone 3, and to provide a beautiful space for visitors to enjoy. Over the years we have also become a great place to volunteer. Our volunteers currently work more than 13,000 hours a year. Much of it is very physical labour and we never have enough help. The reward comes in a job well done and the appreciation shown by all of the visitors to the park.

It is not our intent to deter anyone from visiting the botanic park by charging user fees.

Patricia Bell, President, St. Albert Botanic Park


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