WHEREAS the demand for camping recreation facilities and services in Alberta is increasing with population growth and the interest in camping as a recreation activity; AND WHEREAS the style of camping has shifted from tents and tent trailers to campers, recreation vehicles and trailers of increasing size; AND WHEREAS many existing camping facilities are not designed for the new generation of recreational vehicles; AND WHEREAS the Province of Alberta has turned over the operation and maintenance of provincial parks and campgrounds to private contractors who in some cases have limited ability to invest in newer and more modern camping facilities; AND WHEREAS some private operators are unable or unwilling to ensure a high standard of maintenance in camping facilities, especially washroom facilities; AND WHEREAS the Province has reduced the investment in provincial parks, limiting the amount of camping facilities upgrades required to meet current demands, and to ensure that quality maintenance operations are undertaken;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Province of Alberta to increase its investment in provincial parks and campgrounds to ensure that camping facilities are designed and constructed to meet current and future requirements of all campers using trailers and recreation vehicles, and to ensure that all facilities in provincial campgrounds are operated and maintained to a pleasant, attractive, safe, healthy and appealing standard.
The last 10 -15 years has seen a significant growth in the province’s population, moving from 2.5 million in 1991 to over 3.2 million in 2005. The number of people who choose camping as a recreation activity has also increased. In 1991-92, over 1.48 million people camped in Alberta while in 2002-03 over 1.51 million people camped in provincial parks. During the same time period, the type of camping has shifted as an increasing number of people moved from tent and tent trailer camping to recreational trailer and recreational vehicle camping. Yet, the number and type of camping facilities to accommodate these changes has not kept pace. In addition, the last 15 years saw the transition from provincially-staffed to contractor- operated campgrounds. This has contributed to a new level of stagnation in provincial campground facility investment. Overall, maintenance levels have dropped in areas ranging from slower responses in dead tree removal and tree pruning to the care and cleaning of public washrooms. Albertans are very proud of provincial parks. Many of these parks were started by municipalities and local service clubs before being turned over to provincial control. Campgrounds and camping facilities are major tourism revenue generators for local communities and the Province. For local communities and municipalities, it is important that the Province of Alberta invest in parks and campgrounds to ensure that all provincial camping facilities reflect the needs of current and future users, and that these facilities are maintained at a healthy and appealing level.
The 2006 budget gave $4 million for operational costs, and increased the amount for repair and upgrades by 300% to $44 million. The 2006 provincial budget featured $45 million to repair provincial parks; up from $11 million the year before. The Government of Alberta introduced the Provincial Parks Amendment Act on March 16, 2006 to protect provincial parks. The proposals include better enforcement to prevent damage and higher fines for violators. This is now the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture. In late 2006, the Ministry was mandated by the Premier with developing a plan for provincial parks and recreation areas to accommodate population growth. Key components for this plan have been established based on park visitor surveys, Land Use Framework consultations, and previous research and consultations with stakeholders. A formal decision on the Plan for Parks is expected in early 2008.