900 new campsites could be coming to Alberta over the next decade

Click to play video: '900 new campsites part of Alberta’s parks plan'
900 new campsites part of Alberta’s parks plan
WATCH: A forestry and parks mandate letter was sent out to the minister with a plan to add hundreds more campsites over the next 10 years, but conservationists fear this may not be a sustainable plan. Meghan Cobb has more – Jul 31, 2023

More than 900 new campsites could be available to Albertans in the next ten years due to growing demand to spend time in the outdoors in Alberta’s picturesque landscapes.

In Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s mandate letter to Forestry and Parks Minister Todd Loewen, she asked the minister to work on a plan to expand the number of campsites operated by the provincial government

Campers say space is tight and reservations get booked up fast, especially after many people took up the hobby during the pandemic.

“I think its good idea, there are a lot of people who rely on the outdoors for some peace and quiet and good family time,” said camper Ross Helgeton.

“It’s getting really hard to book reservations and campgrounds are always full,” said camper Kevin Buckton.

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“Over COVID, RV sales have gone through the roof, so where are all these RVs going to camp?”

Click to play video: 'New camping options in Alberta'
New camping options in Alberta

In the mandate letter, Smith also asked Loewen to deliver on various platform commitments such as developing an investment incentive program for the forestry industry as well as investing $5 million in trail upgrades in Kananaskis.

Smith also asked for infrastructure improvements in Kananaskis country, Canmore, the Crowsnest Pass and other high traffic areas in the province.

Minister Loewen said there is a need to increase the number of campsites to accommodate the growing needs and campers agree.

But advocacy groups are concerned about how conservation plays into the plan.

The creation of new provincial recreational areas have to come with environmental protections, said Devon Earl, a conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association.

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“If its not done sustainably, then those areas cease to be wilderness areas and they become degraded,” Earl said.

She also said there needs to be land use planning and science-based accumulative impact assessments before trails and campgrounds are expanded.

“We have to look at the cumulative effect of everything that’s happening on the landscape, and then make science-based decisions on where we’re planning on expanding recreational trails or where we actually reclaim some trails that are causing damage in certain areas,” she said.

Earl added the mandate should have mentioned creating new provincial parks.

The province says this move would support the responsible growth of Alberta’s forest industry and parks system…

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