Overview

Alberta’s public land is a shared resource and a shared responsibility.

Numerous types of recreational activity is allowed on vacant public land, which is defined as public land that has no formal approvals connected to it for other activities such as agriculture, oil and gas development, or mining.

You can camp, horseback ride, dog sled, mountain bike and much more on vacant public land. Remember not to:

  • cause unreasonable damage or disturbance to land or water bodies
  • access land closed by law
  • camp within one kilometre of a provincial park or recreation area
  • camp within 100 metres of lakeshore in a Public Land Use Zone
  • stay longer than 14 days

The 14-day limit allows vegetation time to recover and gives others the opportunity to access the site as well. Campers must clean up all garbage and thoroughly extinguish campfires before leaving.

If the vacant public land being accessed is the bed or shore or a lake, river, stream or watercourse, you can travel through that area, however, wheeled or tracked vehicles are not allowed in these environmentally sensitive areas except for approved situations.

For more information on PLUZs, see:

Enforcement on public land

Government's goal is to help Albertans access public land safely and sustainably while respecting both the environment and other recreational users. A variety of tools to manage recreation on public land are used, including:

  • public information and education
  • partnerships with public land users and other stakeholders
  • monitoring
  • legislation, regulation, and enforcement

Specified penalty tickets

One of the enforcement tools the province has is the ability to issue on-the-spot tickets for public land offences. A particular type of offence has a specific fine amount associated with it. This is called a specified penalty.

Below is a summary list of public land offences and their corresponding specified penalty ticket amounts. New and increased fines as of May 31, 2018, are indicated with a single asterisk.

Ticket fines may range from $115 to $575, depending on the offence. The amounts listed below include the victim fine surcharge. A victim surcharge is a monetary penalty imposed on offenders at the time of sentencing. These funds are used to provide programs, services and assistance to victims of crime.

PLA Section Description/ Particulars Ticket Amount
54(1)(a) Cause/permit/suffer the accumulation of waste/ debris/refuse/garbage on public land. $287*
54(1)(a.2) Cause/permit/suffer activities on/use of public land likely to result in loss/damage to public land. $287*
54.01(2)(a) Enter on or travel on a closed road. $287*
54.01(2)(b) Damage/destroy/remove/alter any posted notice or sign denoting a closed road. $402*
54.01(3) Block/disrupt/hinder/impede/interfere with/obstruct free access to/passage over a highway, road or trail located on public land. $402*
56(1)(d) Occupy public land without authority. $402*
56(1)(e) Willfully and without authority destroy/deface/ remove a notice posted under the Act $287*
PLAR Section Description/ Particulars Ticket Amount
1 PLUZ/PLRA/PLRT: Public Land Use Zones / Public Land Recreation Area / Public Land Recreation Trail
32(2) Occupy public land for recreational purposes without access permit. $287*
37.1(1) Occupy public land for commercial purpose without access permit. $402*
41 Fail to keep access permit at point of use/activity; Fail to post/provide access permit to director when required; Fail to produce access permit when required $115*
43 Enter on/occupy bed and shore of natural waterbody without authority. $287*
45(1) Enter on public land when prohibited to do so by trespass notice/cordon. $287*
45(4) Remove/damage cordon/sign providing notice not to trespass. $402*
134(2) Conduct commercial trail riding operation on public land without authority. $402*
181(a) Fail to comply with order / instruction/ directions of officer within PLUZ / PLRA / PLRT1 $402
181(b) Fail to comply with signs and notices when within PLUZ/PLRA/PLRT $287
183(1) Fail to keep PLUZ/PLRA/PLRT and improvements in satisfactory condition $172
183(2) Fail to restore PLUZ/PLRA/PLRT to clean/tidy condition when vacating $172
184(3) Fail to comply with order restricting/prohibiting entry into PLUZ. $287*
185(1)(a) Operate on highway vehicle except on highway in PLUZ $402*
185(1)(b) Operate off-highway/snow vehicle in PLUZ when unauthorized $287
185(3) Operating a motor vehicle in an area/trail that is not designated for that use in a PLUZ. $402*
185(4)(a) Off-highway vehicle/ motorcycle within 100 metres of lakeshore in PLUZ without access permit/when unauthorized $287
185(4)(b)(c) Camp overnight within 100 metres of lakeshore in PLUZ without authorization. Graze/tether horse within 100 metres of lakeshore in PLUZ without authorization $287*
185(5) Land helicopter on lake or within 200 metres of lakeshore in PLUZ without access permit $575
185(6)(a)(b) Operate motorized boat within PLUZ in undesignated areas. Fail to operate motorized boat in accordance with access permit within PLUZ $287
185(7)(a) Camp within 1 kilometre of a PLRA or in a provincial recreation area within PLUZ $287*
185(7)(b) Start/maintain open fire within 1 kilometre of a PLRA or in a provincial recreation area within PLUZ $575
188(1) Unauthorized set trap, use explosive, discharge firearm in PLRA/PLRT $575*
189(1) Failure to operate motor vehicle in PLRA in prescribed manner $287
190(1) Camping accommodation unit in PLRA exceeding 14 consecutive days without access permit $287*
191(2) Fail to comply with kitchen shelter rules in PLRA $172*
193(1) Bring/permit livestock in PLRA unless in prescribed manner $172
194(1) Fail to keep pet under control as required in PLRA $172*
195 Damage/deface/destroy any resource in PLRA; Remove resource including firewood from PLRA without authorization $287
196 Place unauthorized bill/poster/sign in PLRA without authorization $172*
197(1) Fail to keep land and resources within PLRA in same condition as found $172
198 Interfere with quiet enjoyment of others of PLRA unless in accordance with disposition $287
199(1) Fail to comply with the written instruction of an officer posted within a PLRA. $287*
200(1) Leave any conveyance / motor vehicle / boat / trailer / camping unit in undesignated area in PLRA $172
203 Fail to properly dispose of waste in PLRA $287*
206(1) Operate Motor Vehicle on PLRT other than snow vehicle $402*
206(2) Speed in snow vehicle on PLRT $172*
207 Fail to keep pet under control as required on PLRT $172*
Schedule 4, Part B, 5 Exceed posted speed limit on highway/trail while operating motor vehicle in McLean Creek OHV PLUZ $172*
Schedule 4, Part D, 12(4) Exceed posted speed limit while operating snow vehicle in Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle PLUZ $172*
Schedule 4, Part J, 36(1) Allow horse in undesignated areas in Holmes Crossing PLUZ $287*
Schedule 4, Part K, 38(1) Allow horse on designated cross country trails between Nov 1 and Mar 31 in Whitecourt Sandhills Cross-Country Ski PLUZ $287
Schedule 4, Part R, 55(2) Camping accommodation unit in Willow Creek PLUZ exceeding 14 consecutive days without access permit $287*

Legislation

Alberta's Public Lands Administration Regulation under the Public Lands Act outlines how the province's public land is to be properly used and maintained. To review this legislation, visit the Alberta Queen's Printer website at:

Procedures for issuing tickets and penalties are outlined in the Procedures Regulation under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act. To review this legislation, visit the Alberta Queen's Printer website at: