Prairie Post (East Edition)

SENIOR Building more campground­s and trails across Alberta

- Contribute­d

Alberta’s government is investing in campground­s and trails to ensure Albertans can access high-quality and low-cost recreation sites.

Millions of people visit Alberta every year to explore our provincial parks, catch a glimpse of our wildlife, take in the views and engage in countless recreation opportunit­ies. In 2022 alone, more than 10 million people visited Alberta’s provincial parks. Alberta’s government is investing more than $211.3 million over three years to improve and expand recreation in and access to provincial parks and Crown land across the province so that Albertans and visitors alike can enjoy Alberta’s parks now and in the future.

Currently, 60 campground, day-use area and trail enhancemen­t projects are underway across the province, representi­ng an investment of $50.9 million in 2023.

“Many Albertans have discovered or rediscover­ed the enjoyment of getting outdoors in the past few years, and thanks to investment­s in new and improved provincial campground­s, there’s never been a better time to enjoy the beautiful provincial parks and camping spaces,” added Gerry Harasci, executive vice-president, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Assoc. of Alberta.

Alberta’s government is committed to developing and expanding provincial campground­s over the next 10 years with the goal of creating more than 900 new campsites and several new locations for comfort camping across the province.

In collaborat­ion with Travel Alberta and in alignment with their tourism developmen­t zones, Alberta’s government will identify locations for new and expanded campground­s to ensure equitable access to recreation for rural communitie­s and to help meet visitor demand. Sites with potential for immediate expansion include the Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area, Castle Provincial Park and Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.

“The investment­s being made by the Government of Alberta in expanded outdoor recreation experience­s – such as expanded provincial campground­s and enhanced system of trails – is a welcome move, one that responds to TIAA’s call for diversific­ation of Alberta’s outdoor recreation economy while ensuring the sustainabl­e use, and protection, of Crown lands and provincial parks,” explained Darren Reeder, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Associatio­n of Alberta.

As part of this three-year investment, $14 million of capital funding will enhance trails and tourism on public land, largely along the Eastern Slopes. The projects supported by this investment will ensure safe access to recreation, improve public safety and enhance visitor experience­s.

“As volunteers who love and actively support outdoor recreation like camping, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and a wide variety of other activities, the Friends of the Eastern Slopes Associatio­n appreciate­s the government’s commitment to increase environmen­tally sustainabl­e, affordable access to the magnificen­t opportunit­ies afforded to us by Alberta’s backyard,” said Dale Marshall, president, Friends of the Eastern Slopes Associatio­n.

Alberta’s provincial parks and public lands benefit every Albertan, supporting physical, mental and social well-being while attracting visitors from around the world and contributi­ng to the provincial economy.

All developmen­t in provincial parks and on Crown land is subject to strict environmen­tal and cultural reviews. This environmen­tally responsibl­e framework resets a vision for Alberta Parks – keeping parks for people, sustaining the environmen­t and supporting tourism and recreation outcomes.

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transformi­ng the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communitie­s safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversific­ation.

Quick facts

• $211.3 million is being invested over three years to improve and expand recreation and access in parks and across Crown lands. This includes:

$500,000 for Year 1 and $11 million for years 2 and 3 to build new campsites and campground­s and develop more recreation and tourism opportunit­ies.

$2 million for Year 1 and $12 million for years 2 and 3 to build and improve Crown land trails.

$7.6 million for Year 1 and $2 million for Year 2 to establish Big Island Provincial Park.

$67.1 million for Year 1 and $109.1 million for years 2 and 3 in capital investment to improve existing infrastruc­ture in provincial parks and public lands across the province.

• Budget 2023 capital investment across the province:

Parks Kananaskis Region: $15.1 million Parks Central Region: $18.1 million Parks Northern Region: $18.3 million Parks Southern Region: $14.6 million Public lands: $5.6 million Provincial initiative­s: $3 million

New campground­s: $500,000

Crown land trails: $2 million

• Highlights of 2023-24 funded capital projects: $3.9 million to continue modernizin­g Aspen Beach Provincial Park, including developing a new shower building and refurbishi­ng campsites, electrical systems, water and wastewater infrastruc­ture and toilets.

$6.2 million to repair and upgrade sanitary stations and wastewater systems at Long Lake Provincial Park, Cross Lake Provincial Park, Garner Lake Provincial Park, Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, Lakeland Provincial Park, Saskatoon Island Provincial Park and Young’s Point Prov. Park. $1.6 million to repair and refurbish trails and crossings in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Castle Provincial Park and Cypress Hills Provincial Park.

$260,000 to complete assessment, planning and design work for trail refurbishm­ent at Cardinal Headwaters in Coal Branch Public Land Use Zone, the MacKenzie Creek watershed, Mount Hamell, Muskeg Falls and Twin Falls.

$1.3 million to refurbish trails and amenities in the Kananaskis Public Land Use Zone and for design work to refurbish the Powderface Trail in Kananaskis Country.

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