January 2, 2017 6:20 pm
Updated: January 5, 2017 7:14 pm

Parks Canada hoping visitors will get a free 2017 pass, even though they don’t need one

WATCH ABOVE: Free access to Canada’s national parks and historic sites began on New Year’s day, and as Global’s Tracy Nagai reports, it’s welcome news for those looking to cut costs and businesses hoping to cash in.

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As an homage to Canada’s 150 birthday this year, the federal government announced in January 2016 it will be offering free passes to all national parks for 2017.

READ MORE: ‘Free’ Parks Canada passes actually costing taxpayers $5.7 million

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The demand for the free passes literally crashed the Parks Canada website in December 2016, but one thing visitors might not know is that they actually do not need a pass to enter the parks this year.

Global News has learned park users who enter without a pass will not suffer any repercussions, however officials are still hoping people will take the time to get one.

“If they don’t come and they don’t stop either at a gate or a visitor centre or campground we get very few opportunities to interact with them. So to be able to provide safety information, wildlife information, we’re really encouraging people to drive through the gate and get a pass,” said Greg Danchuk, with Parks Canada.

READ MORE: Parks Canada website swamped by demand for free 2017 national parks passes

Parks Canada said that already more than 900,000 people have requested a free visitor pass.

“We will have mobile information where we’ll put people out…at the busier areas that will be able to help inform people of how to move around in those locations,” he said.

“If we find someone without a pass, we will inform them that they really should have a pass, plus we will be able to provide them a pass.

“We want people to keep in the habit of getting a pass, so when they come back next year or years in the future, they know that they need to have a pass to get into the national park.”

Officials said the passes are important as they are “sometimes one of the only opportunities for visitors to interact with Parks Canada staff to receive important information about the park, safety information and wildlife information.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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