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WHEREAS according to the Public Lands Amendment Act, the Government of Alberta is committed to sustainable recreation management that ensures that public land is accessible to all Albertans for personal enjoyment and sustainable outdoor recreation; and
WHEREAS as per section 9.1 of the Public Lands Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council can authorize the Minister of Environment and Parks to impose fees relating to the use and occupation of public land including the carrying on of activities on public land; and
WHEREAS Ministerial Order 52/2021 – Public Lands Camping Pass requires a valid “Public Lands Camping Pass” (Camping Pass) for every person entering on and occupying public lands within the pass area for the purpose of camping at a cost of $30 annually or $20 for a three-day pass; and
WHEREAS Albertans recognize the benefits from sustainable outdoor recreation and the Government of Alberta is committed to ensuring the costs are shared in a way that is fair for all Albertans; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta is committed to using fees collected for recreational uses of public land for purposes related to the maintenance and management of public land and recreation and public safety on public land; and
WHEREAS the Minister of Environment and Parks states that the proceeds from Camping Pass fees will be used to upgrade infrastructure, improve public education, fund conservation officers on the ground, enhance public safety and ensure better environmental and waste management; and
WHEREAS municipal resources such as fire services, peace officers and solid waste services, along with municipal facilities and washrooms are relied upon in support of recreational activities on public lands; and
WHEREAS there is no current funding structure for municipalities to recoup any portion of these municipal services costs associated with camping on public lands; and
WHEREAS local community or volunteer groups, such as search and rescue along with sports, camping and trails management groups are also impacted by recreational activities on public lands; and
WHEREAS there is no direct funding structure for community groups to recoup any portion of additional costs or services associated with the use of public lands; and
WHEREAS municipalities should be consulted for public lands infrastructure upgrades and waste management planning related to Camping Pass funding use, as those plans may directly and indirectly impact municipalities; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) requests that the Government of Alberta provide a portion of the revenue generated from the Public Lands Camping Pass to municipalities with adjacent public lands for the purpose of offsetting additional costs of municipal fire services, peace officers and solid waste services, along with municipal facilities and washrooms associated with recreational use of public lands;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA requests the Government of Alberta establish a program, funded by a portion of the Public Lands Camping Pass funds, for municipalities to be a coordinating agency for local stewardship and community groups impacted by public lands use.
As of June 1, 2021, the Public Lands Camping Pass (PLCP) is required for random camping on public land along the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains. It extends from Grande Prairie all the way down to Waterton. In the headwaters of the Oldman watershed, the pass applies to both the Livingstone and Porcupine Hills Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ).
Camping pass fees will be reinvested to improve recreation experiences and help conserve and protect Alberta’s beautiful landscapes so they can be enjoyed now and into the future. Campers 18 years and older must buy a pass.
A one-time Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) purchase is required to access the system ($8, but with a $2 discount if purchased online). Campers will be required to show proof of payment (printed pass or mobile app) to enforcement officers when requested. Non-compliance could result in a fine.
The passes can be purchased:
Unlike the Conservation Pass, the PLCP is sold per person (not per vehicle). Children under 18 are not required to have the pass, and neither are other groups with exemptions such as First Nations people holding a status card. You do not require the PLCP for day trips and/or if you are staying in a campground.
All Acts and regulations are still in place, and campers are responsible for knowing where they are allowed to camp and what passes they need. The Alberta Government has stated that during the initial roll-out of the new pass, campers may be granted a grace period to comply before being fined, to allow Albertans to become familiar with the new system. However, non-compliance could result in a fine once it becomes common knowledge. Campers should be ready to provide proof of payment while camping.
The intent of the pass is to reinvest funds into the region to improve recreation and protect public land for generations to come by improving infrastructure, education, enforcement, public safety, waste management, and conservation initiatives.
Download the boundary map (PDF, 1MB)
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Environment and Protected Areas
The Government of Alberta is committed to sustainable recreation management, including ongoing work to implement the Trails Act and sustainable fee framework. Government recognizes that communities next to public lands are impacted by high recreational use.
Recreation fees, such as off-highway vehicle registration fees and the Public Lands Camping Pass, help government implement important conservation commitments, including public outreach, as well as trail and watercourse crossing maintenance. Since its introduction in June 2021, the pass has generated $2.5 million.
It is important to note that the department invests significantly more into managing recreation than just the revenue generated by the pass. For example, Environment and Protected Areas and Clearwater County are partnering on the Highway 11 Rail Trail to develop a multi-user trail system along an abandoned rail line – a project that costs approximately $10 million. Municipalities are important partners in recreation, and the Alberta government continues to look for opportunities to invest with municipalities when funds are available.
Municipalities are also important partners in trail planning, which is underway for several trails and trail networks of interest on public lands in the eastern slopes. Environment and Protected Areas relies on this collaborative process to support mutually beneficial outcomes for recreation on public lands, including conservation and increased tourism opportunities. Trail management plans will incorporate the needs of the area’s other land uses, such as resource development activities, as well as protection of ecologically sensitive areas and the interests of Indigenous Peoples, stakeholders, and nearby communities.
The Government of Alberta response acknowledges the impacts of provincial recreation areas on neighboring municipalities yet does not provide a subsequent plan or approach to consider how such municipalities can be better supported. The examples provided in the government response are linked to specific provincial responsibilities within the recreation areas themselves, or special, one-time capital-focused partnerships with municipalities which (while appreciated) are not relevant to the intent of the resolution.
While the Government of Alberta has implemented the Public Lands Camping Pass because public use of such lands causes direct capital and maintenance expenses for government, municipalities that incur related impacts as neighbors and even provide services within the public lands have no specialized tool or fund to off-set these costs. While project-specific partnerships with municipalities are certainly a positive approach on the part of the province, a revenue-sharing mechanism that recognizes the spillover costs of such recreation areas is required.
This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met and RMA will continue to advocate on this issue.