Changes to the Alberta Parks system will allow government to focus its energy on renowned signature destinations and examine opportunities for other groups to operate smaller parks and day-use areas.
“Albertans have expressed an interest in taking a more active role in the operation of some areas traditionally run by the province. In order to facilitate this, and to renew our commitment to our ‘crown jewel’ destinations, we will be offering Albertans, non-profits and First Nations the opportunity to work with our government and with parks societies on exploring these important partnerships.”
Government undertook an assessment of all sites in the Alberta Parks system and identified 164 of its 473 sites – 0.3 per cent of the Alberta Parks land base – for proposed removal from the system.
Sites identified are mainly small and under-utilized provincial recreation areas that would become vacant public land. Work is underway to determine if some of these facilities and areas could stay open under a public lands management model. Through prospective sale or transfer to First Nations or entities such as a municipality or non-profit, these sites could continue to provide important economic and recreational benefits to local communities.
Implementing the changes will support a renewed vision for nature-based visitor experiences to lands of high recreation, conservation, tourism and education value.
“Our government has a bold vision for the tourism industry, and opening up more facilities and areas for First Nations, non-profit and private sector operation is a great way to encourage private sector investment and create jobs across Alberta as we implement our 10-year tourism strategy.”
In its platform, government committed to review Environment and Parks legislation to modernize it for the 21st century, including the Alberta Parks system. Revenue from Alberta Parks service fees in 2018-19 was $33.4 million. The revenue is directed back into the parks system to support operations which, in the same fiscal year, cost government $86.1 million.
Additional changes to support a more effective and efficient parks system include closing or partially closing 20 sites this year and increasing camping service fees. The base camping rate at most campgrounds will rise by $3 and rates for power, water, sewers and showers will increase by $1 where services are available. Service fees in provincial campgrounds have not increased since 2016. Access to provincial parks and day use areas remains free.
With the camping season just around the corner, online reservations open March 10 for comfort camping, March 17 for individual campsites and March 24 for group camping. Online bookings open at 9 a.m. for each launch and can be made at Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca.
Starting this year, Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca will be available 365 days, allowing for consistent and easy access to year-round Alberta Parks’ camping reservations.
Changes to the parks system, where applicable to online reservations, will be captured on the website.
More information will be available in early May 2020 for people interested in pursuing alternate management approaches with the Government of Alberta.
- Individual online campsite bookings March 17 are staggered by region
- 9 a.m. south region
- 11 a.m. Kananaskis region
- 1 p.m. Central region
- 3 p.m. north region
- This year, campers will get an email reminder of cancellation windows, advisory updates and information about events and activities in their park seven to 15 days in advance of their booking.
- Payment methods have expanded to include Visa and MasterCard debit cards.
- To reduce operational costs this year, Barrier Lake and Elbow Valley visitor centres in the Kananaskis region will be closed. Shortened operating seasons will also be implemented in some provincial campgrounds.
- Alberta Parks will retain 310 of its sites.