Canadian Authority Demands Fee From Photographers to Shoot on Public Land

 Alexander Stewart Provincial Park
Photographers wanting to shoot in Alexander Stewart Provincial Park in Ontario require a permit. | Creative Commons

A photographer says she will likely boycott a Canadian township after local authorities demanded a $90 fee for photo shoots in public spaces.

Stacy Kenopic tells PetaPixel that the extension of a permit requirement by the McNab/Braeside Township in Ontario will put off local photographers because it is the client that will have to pay the fee if they want a photo session on public land.

“I have heard about this in certain Toronto areas but never had it happen to myself,” Kenopic explains. “I don’t believe it is fair.”

Kenopic says Deputy Mayor Lori Hoddinott has referred to a local museum, Waba Cottage, that charges fees for photography. However, the photographer says that it’s a wedding venue that can be rented in its entirety with the public not allowed in. Kenopic points out that a fee for shooting in a public park is not the same because the public is still allowed in the area that has been reserved for photography.

The disagreement started after Kenopic, based in the nearby town of Renfrew, emailed the McNab/Braeside township to ask when local beauty spot Burnstown Beach opens for the season because she wants to do a photo shoot there.

But on March 25, Kenopic received a reply that a photography fee of $90 (120 CAD) is required for a “professional photo session wherein Township Property is reserved.”

Hoddinott tells Inside Ottawa Valley that the local authority recently extended the permit to all parks in the McNab/Braeside Township.

“The permit (or license as it is sometimes referred to in the industry) is the standard course of business in the photography industry,” Hoddinott says.

“It only applies to commercial setups, an example would be photo shoots involving equipment such as large gear, an all-day session where multiple clients are processing through every half-hour, or a bridal party setting up for a long list of various poses.”

But Kenopic, who has been a photographer for 12 years, says she doesn’t know of anywhere else in Ottawa that charges fees besides one historical site. She points out that if it were private land, then that would be different, but charging to take photos in a public space is unnecessary.

“This industry hasn’t recovered from the pandemic,” Kenopic tells Inside Ottawa Valley. “It’s not going to be affecting us, it’s going to be affecting the customer, and I think it’s just a low stab at a profession that’s still having a hard time.”

After PetaPixel reached out to Deputy Mayor Hoddinott, she says that her office offered to waive Kenopic’s fee and insists that the permit is for “bigger setups, not photographers taking a few photos.”

“The permit has been in effect for years. Basically, if you are a business and you want to set up equipment in a park and sell your wares/do your business thing, you need to contact the township first and get permission. The biggest concern for the Township is getting their insurance on file,” says Hoddinott.

“It only applies to the larger commercial entities, people setting up heavy equipment ie strobes — this ensures at least there is contact made with the township prior to the day, appropriate space is set aside if necessary, etc…”

Update 4/2: Updated with Deputy Mayor Hoddinott’s comments.