KANANASKIS – A voluntary paid parking program is coming to Kananaskis Country this 2020-21 winter season.
On Friday (Oct. 30), a new one-year pilot project was put in place that will charge $10 per day or $50 for the season to cover cross-country ski grooming expenses at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP), Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, Spray Valley Provincial Park and Sheep River Provincial Park.
“The funds raised will go to offset the costs,” said Chris Reitz, chair of Nordiq Alberta. “Whether by purchasing a parking pass or volunteering, we can each do our part to keep cross-country ski trails maintained in Kananaskis.”
The pilot project is between the Government of Alberta and Nordiq Alberta and winter trail grooming begins Dec. 1 or sooner, depending on winter conditions.
Passes are available online at kananaskisgrooming.ca or at retail stores in Canmore, Kananaskis Village and Calgary. A self-pay drop box will be in place at Pocaterra and Elk Pass only. Nordiq Alberta volunteers will be at trailheads to verify passes and share information about the program with users.
The funds will go to Alberta Parks and Environment to continue cross-country ski grooming in K-Country after the province cut out the $200,000 expense from the budget earlier this year for trails in Peter Lougheed, Mount Shark and the Kananaskis Village Area.
The unexpected decision resulted in concerns being expressed by the cross-country skiing community, and local businesses relying on winter tourism in the region.
“The economic impact would have been great,” said Michelle Faerden, owner of Kananaskis Outfitters. “This announcement brings the Kananaskis Country business community great joy and relief.”
Present for Friday's announcement were Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin and Jason Nixon, Alberta's Minister of Environment and Park.
Rosin said she had received over 4,800 emails from the nordic ski community since February’s cuts.
“With Minister Nixon’s help, we have found a way to keep our beautiful Kananaskis Country open for recreation without adding cost pressure to the taxpayer, and that is something I’m proud of,” she said.
Additionally, the Government of Alberta re-announced $15 million of funding for improvements and upgrades in K-Country.
This will include renovating the William Watson Lodge and replacing the main lodge at PLPP; reconfiguring parking, refurbishing the trail system and providing ecological protections at Big Hill Spring Provincial Park; developing, expanding and modernizing the Barrier Lake Day Use Area; upgrading washrooms and group shelters, as well as refurbishing accessible trails and replacing fences at Shannon Terrace in Fish Creek Provincial Park; and building a new four-season educational facility at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the number of emails MLA Miranda Rosin received.