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Provincial park user fees could be a possibility in Alberta

The hiking trail on Yamnuska in Alberta's Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, part of Kananaskis Country.
The hiking trail on Yamnuska in Alberta's Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, part of Kananaskis Country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colette Derworiz

Alberta Parks is looking for opinions on user fees for provincial parks.

When booking a campsite online, you’ll get a questionnaire, polling people on the possibility of paying to use certain hiking trails or cross-country ski areas.

Read more: Damage from parks being overused happening across Alberta: environment minister

The survey also asks for feedback on paying for boat launches, beaches, parking, education programs for schools, interpretive programs for the public, learn-to camps, and building rentals, such as reserving a picnic shelter for the day.

The public is also being asked their thoughts on an all-inclusive pass covering multiple activities for a day or an all-inclusive pass for a year.

Alberta Parks Questionnaire
Alberta Parks Questionnaire. Supplied to Global News

Grace Wark is a conservation specialist with Alberta Wilderness Association. She said she is worried that it will impact accessibility.

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“We are pretty unsupportive of applying user fees to public lands because they are a public resource and people need to be able to use them especially during times of COVID-19, where the only safe activity is to hit the trails and be outdoors,” Wark said.

Read more: Documents reveal doubts on Alberta plans to close, deregulate parks

Jess Sinclair, press secretary to the minister of Environment and Parks, said feedback from campers is important to them.

“We update the questions from time to time to gauge visitors’ opinions about different topics.”

“The latest survey includes a question to help understand campers’ opinions about fees,” Sinclair said.

“We’re thinking to the future to ensure sustainability of the system.

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“We’ve looked across North America, and user fees are something many other jurisdictions use to maintain services and support quality visitor experiences in parks.”

Read more: 20 Alberta Parks slated for full or partial closures

Sinclair said Alberta already has fees for camping and some services in provincial parks.

“Those fees include winter access at the Canmore Nordic Centre, Writing on Stone and Dinosaur Provincial Park tours, and some visitor services programming.”