By Carol Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Alberta Parks is looking for opinions on user fees for provincial parks. When booking a campsite online, you’ll get a questionnaire, polling people on the possibility of paying to use certain hiking trails or cross-country ski areas.
The survey also asks for feedback on paying for boat launches, beaches, parking, education programs for schools, interpretive programs for the public, learn-to camps, and building rentals, such as reserving a picnic shelter for the day. The public is also being asked their thoughts on an all-inclusive pass covering multiple activities for a day or an all-inclusive pass for a year.
Jess Sinclair, press secretary to the minister of Environment and Parks, said feedback from campers is important to them. “We update the questions from time to time to gauge visitors’ opinions about different topics.”
“The latest survey includes a question to help understand campers’ opinions about fees,” Sinclair said. “We’ve looked across North America, and user fees are something many other jurisdictions use to maintain services and support quality visitor experiences in parks.”
Grace Wark is a conservation specialist with Alberta Wilderness Association. She said she is worried that it will impact accessibility. “We are pretty unsupportive of applying user fees to public lands because they are a public resource and people need to be able to use them especially during times of COVID-19, where the only safe activity is to hit the trails and be outdoors,” Wark said.
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