MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Increases in provincial camping fees this year will help support sustainable recreation in the region and elsewhere in the province, says Jason Nixon, area MLA and minister of Environment and Parks (AEP).
The opposition NDP says increasing fees during the pandemic is unfair to campers and others.
There will be fee increases for camping this year of $1 to $3 a night.
“Last year was the busiest camping season in Alberta to date, and the province is expecting similar visitation numbers in 2021,” said Nixon, the MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. “This dramatic increase in parks visitors will result in increased revenue but will also result in some strain on the parks system and on our public lands.
“Albertans have expressed that they are willing to pay a bit more to improve our parks system and protect our public lands.”
Consultations undertaken by AEP in late 2020 showed Albertans were in favour of fees to support sustainable recreation provided those fees are returned to the parks system, he said.
“We ran on a platform commitment to implement off-highway vehicle and random camping fees and to implement a balanced backcountry land-use plan,” he said.
Budget 2021 increases overall funding for the parks system to address increased recreational activity on public lands, he said.
“Our budget will also fund 50 additional full-time employees on the ground to keep our lands protected and to keep Albertans safe while they enjoy our beautiful backyard,” he said.
“Alberta’s government will continue to explore options to ensure that our parks system is sustainable for generations to come and that parks continue to be fully funded through an appropriate balance of taxpayer and user revenues.”
All provincial parks will continue to be public and accessible, he said.
Joe Ceci is the NDP critic for Municipal Affairs.
“Alberta families will pay more to use their parks this summer as Jason Kenney’s new budget hikes fees by $20 million but hides from Albertans exactly which fees will go up,” said Ceci.
“Many Alberta families are enduring financial hardship right now, and they deserve to know what it’s going to cost them.”
Budget 2021 includes another $20 million in fee increases, almost $14 million of which is not fully detailed in the fee schedule changes contained in the budget, he said.
“Rather than fully fund Alberta’s parks, it’s clear that Jason Kenney is planning to cover up his cuts by nickel and diming everyday families who enjoy the outdoors,” he said.
“Where is the rest of this money coming from? Is it coming out of the pockets of Alberta families through fees for camping and things like firewood and electrical hook up?”
Read more from MountainViewToday.ca