If you’re an avid hunter with an annual income of more than $120K and a home security system that’s constantly on the fritz, today’s provincial budget was a downer. But for the heritage sector, today was a good day. 2015 may have produced one of the most austere provincial budgets in recent memory, but by the grace of the heritage gods, it seems our sector has once again escaped largely unscathed. Here are the details.
A Little Pain
As of May 1st, non-residents will pay a little bit more to visit the Rooms. Regular adult admission will jump from $7.50 to $10, while a family pass will increase from $20 to $26. Students and seniors fare a little better. They’ll both be increasing from $5 to $6.50. I say “non-resident” because it seems the only time townies visit the Rooms is on Wednesday evenings and the first Saturday of every month ... when admission is (and will remain) free!
And speaking of free .... Remember free parking at the Rooms? Kiss it good-bye. As of a yet-to-be-determined date, visitor parking will cost $2/hour. Rental fees for the Rooms boardroom, theatre, Level 2 and Atrium spaces will also increase.
Of course, the big news of the day is the 2% increase in the HST. For heritage organizations, that means just about everything - from construction materials to cookies for your volunteers - will be a little bit more expensive. However, with the 50% HST refund for nonprofits and HST input credits for businesses and social enterprises, it’s a little like money out, money in.
And a Little Gain
On the brighter side, the budget includes $420,000 for Provincial Historic Sites. This is year two of the multi-year $1.2 million development plan announced in Budget 2014. According to PHS staff, most of this money is destined for structural work on the sites, but does include some visitor experience upgrades. Details should be available in the very near future.
Also of interest is the $2 million increase in the provincial tourism marketing budget, bringing the total annual tourism marketing spend to $13 million. And finally, the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, currently being considered for UNESCO World Heritage Status, will see the addition of two new seasonal interpreters.