Alberta’s provincial parks system will receive a $239-million injection of funds over the next five years.
Recreational users will soon see new and improved campsites, hiking trails, shower buildings, playgrounds, more picnic tables and campsites with power, expanded parking lots and refurbished day-use areas throughout the parks system.
“With nearly a million people moving to Alberta in the past decade, funding for parks barely covered routine maintenance and left little room to invest in new parks and amenities to meet increasing demand. Our unprecedented investment in the provincial parks system is an investment in the well-being of Albertans, supports our move toward a diversified economy through increased tourism, and will create hundreds of jobs.”
This investment will be far-reaching and support implementation of Alberta Parks’ commitments under the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) ($50 million) and the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) ($25 million). It will also address facility upgrades and capital maintenance through $152 million in Capital Maintenance and Renewal (CMR) funding.
Alberta’s provincial parks are in dire need of increased maintenance funding to offset decades of neglect that have left many assets such as shelters, roads, visitor information centres and water systems in poor condition.
This money will also support work below the ground, such as water-line replacements and such cosmetic surface improvements as painting and campsite refurbishment.
Alberta’s provincial parks system is managed under five regions, all of which receive annual life-cycle maintenance funding to address priorities to enhance the visitor experience.
More than 100 provincial parks, provincial recreation areas and day-use areas in every region will benefit from government’s capital and maintenance commitment, with more than $38 million supporting projects, planning and flood mitigation this year.
Many projects are still in the design and planning stage, while others are at various stages of construction.
Regional projects include:
- Lakeland Provincial Park – addition of comfort cabins
- English Bay Provincial Recreation Area – campground redevelopment
- Young’s Point Provincial Park – playground and day-use area upgrades
- Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park – parking lot converted to a camping area
- Blackfoot-Cooking Lake Provincial Recreation Area – trail system upgrade
- Wabamun Lake Provincial Park – expansion of parking lots
- West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area – trailhead expansion
- Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Area – campground and day-use area expansion and upgrades
- Cypress Hills Provincial Park – boardwalk redevelopment
- Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park – roadway upgrades and trail improvements
For the 2016-17 fiscal year, Alberta Parks is allocating:
- $16.22 million for maintenance funding (doubling to $33.98 in 2017-18 and subsequent fiscal years)
- $10 million for South Saskatchewan Regional Plan commitments
- $5 million for Lower Athabasca Regional Plan commitments
- $5.12 million for flood mitigation for the Kananaskis Country Golf Course
- $2 million for parks planning