WHEREAS the Province of Alberta has promised Albertans that parks will be managed for their use and enjoyment today and for future generations;
WHEREAS the Province of Alberta recognizes the importance of recreation areas to Albertans with the creation of “Active Alberta – A Recreation, Active Living and Sport Policy” that strives to ensure recreation will continue to be emphasized as a significant factor in promoting healthy living;
WHEREAS the Minister of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has closed or downgraded many recreation areas/camping facilities in the Province;
WHEREAS it is felt that these closed or downgraded facilities are fundamental to the public’s enjoyment of Alberta’s parks and open spaces;
WHEREAS due to manpower reductions, Alberta’s recreation areas/camping facilities are no longer receiving the care and attention they require;
WHEREAS the public is forced to move on to other less controlled public areas for their recreation enjoyment;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Ministry of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to allocate adequate funding to prevent the closing or downgrading of provincial recreation areas/camping facilities; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that AAMDC urge the Ministry of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to provide additional funding to Alberta parks to ensure sufficient manpower is in place to properly manage and control the recreation areas/camping facilities of the province.
The MD of Pincher Creek is located adjacent to the Rocky Mountains in the southwest corner of Alberta. Roughly 20 per cnet of the land within our borders is forestry and numerous campgrounds and day use areas are located within our boundaries. There is one provincial park and one provincial reservoir as well.
Since the operation and maintenance of provincial campgrounds has been privatized, there has been a noticeable decline in the overall appearance of these campgrounds. Firewood is now a purchasable item. Fees have increased significantly, Provincial presence in the campgrounds has all but disappeared and now notification has been received that some of them will be shut down or downgraded because of lack of use.
During this time period the use of recreation vehicles on public lands has increased. This is especially noticeable in the forestry areas where random camping appears to be at an all time high. As the quality of our campgrounds decline, usage costs rise and personal safety diminishes the obvious result is more random camping where costs are zero and rules minimal.
It is imperative that funding levels are maintained so that adequate provincial presence is maintained in our public areas. Albertans deserve to feel proud of the recreational opportunities available in our province and should not be waiting in line for substandard facilities. The forestry areas of Alberta require constant diligence so that they are preserved for many generations to come.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Tourism, Parks and Recreation:
The AAMDC resolution confirms how important our provincial parks and campgrounds are to Albertans. Parks play an important role in Albertans’ well being and we manage the park system to ensure that parks can be enjoyed today and well into the future.
Tourism, Parks and Recreation (TPR) constantly reviews visitor statistics as well as operation and maintenance costs for provincial campgrounds to ensure that we are making the best use of resources. For the 2010 camping season, this review resulted in changes in service at some low-use provincial parks and recreation areas. These decisions were not taken lightly and prior to moving forward, TPR worked diligently to interest local groups, including municipalities, to operate some of the sites slated for closure. TPR was able to find five new operators and as a result, only one low-use campground was closed. At seven other lower-use sites we shortened the camping season by approximately three weeks. Six sites were converted to day use and no longer offered overnight camping.
These measures ensured that TPR could provide a good standard of service across the nearly 500 parks in the provincial parks system. TPR has been able to maintain a reasonable level of funding for parks, in light of government’s other spending priorities, such as healthcare and education and will continue to make every effort to avoid further service reductions or closures in 2011.
Since 2004, the province has invested nearly $275 million to repair and renew park infrastructure. A primary concern is health and safety, so TPR focus on water treatment/distribution systems and sewer lines, as well as new washroom and shower facilities, improved campsites, road and trail paving, building repair and painting, and replacing picnic tables and fire pits. TPR believes that these investments will ensure that our provincial parks remain as preferred destinations for Albertans and visitors.
Concerns regarding the management and control of recreation and camping on general Crown lands do not fall under the jurisdiction of TPR. These concerns have been forwarded for consideration and response by Sustainable Resource Development.
Contact: Graham Statt, Executive Director, Program Coordination, 780-644-4948
Sustainable Resource Development:
This resolution is specific to the mandate of Tourism, Parks and Recreation (TPR). The resolution calls for TPR to allocate adequate funding as well as provide additional funding in order to properly manage camping facilities and recreation areas in the province. The resolution does not present a concern regarding random camping on Crown land. However, within the background for the resolution, AAMDC indicates a belief that the combined effect of a decline in the number of campgrounds and the increased camping costs has increased random camping on public lands.
Since TPR’s reference to Sustainable Resource Development’s (SRD) management of random camping is responding to the background of AAMDC’s resoluton and not to the resolution itself, SRD will not provide any additonal information at this time. Once Municipal Affairs has delivered the government’s responses to AAMDC, the association has the opportunity to develop a new resolution specific to random camping and off-highway vehicle use on Crown land. SDR will then be in a position to respond to the new resolution.
Contact: Chad Barber, Minister’s Administrative Assistant, 780-415-4815
In responding to this resolution, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation notes that finite resources result in periodic reviews of visitor use. Based on this, one low-use campground was closed, seven had their seasons shortened, and six were converted to day-use. Since the provincial magnitude of these numbers is quite small in comparison to the 500 provincial parks available, the AAMDC believes the intent of this resolution has been met. As such, this resolution is accepted in principle.
The AAMDC followed up for a more detailed response regarding increased random camping on public land and was notified that random camping is an accepted activity; however, irresponsible behaviour or misuse is not condoned. Management of activities on public lands is being addressed by the Land-use Framework, Plan for Parks, a Recreation Management Strategy and the Public Lands Administration Regulation. In the 2013-14 budget, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation has maintained budget levels for parks operation, however, there is no guarantee that these funds will be used to prevent closing or downgrading of provincial areas or increase staffing in needed areas. The AAMDC will continue to monitor developments on this issue.