Kananaskis Conservation Pass revenue brings in millions, area improvements underway: province
The government of Alberta says a Kananaskis Country user fee implemented in June is already having a positive impact on the area.
Alberta Parks Minister Jason Nixon says $10 million has been raised through the purchase of approximately 253,000 passes this year.
He says that money is going toward trail maintenance, waste management and facility upkeep in K-Country.
Nixon also says 20 conservation officers have been hired thanks to the Kananaskis Conservation Pass. Those officers focus on education and enforcement; two things the province says is needed as visits to the area spike.
The implementation of the pass was controversial when it was announced over the summer. Many in the area, which encompasses more than 4,000 square kilometres, agreed money was needed for upkeep and maintenance but critics worried not all of the revenue would be directed into the immediate space.
Nixon aimed to dispel those worries Monday. He says every dollar raised through passes has thus far been used for its intended purpose.
A government press release says about $15 million is being directed to improvements in Kananaskis Country including design upgrades to the Canmore Nordic Centre, modernizing William Watson Lodge and improving Yamnuska Trail.
As of June 1, all vehicles stopping in K-Country and the Bow Valley Corridor must have a pass.
They're available online for $15 per vehicle per day or a yearly pass may be purchased for $90.
Eventually, officers will enforce the change with fines of up to $150. Nixon says that hasn't happened yet, but that compliance this year is believed to be as high as 90 per cent.
The NDP's Environment and Parks critic Marlin Schmidt said in a statement that the UCP is being hypocritical and demonstrating a lack of self-awareness.
"As Albertans struggle to make ends meet as the cost of everything continues to go up, the UCP has imposed a fee on nature while spending billions of dollars on corporate handouts and millions on their failed War Room," it read.
"Just today, the UCP managed to find money for a 10 per cent raise for one of their MLAs while telling Albertans they don’t have enough money to protect our parks.
"Before coming to Albertans for more fees, the UCP needs to take a look at their priorities and get their fiscal house in order."