Alberta government will increase camping fees for 2021 season

CALGARY — Spying another busy season for Alberta, the government has decided to increase fees slightly for campsite users, but officials say there’s nothing secret about the move.

Alberta NDP municipal affairs critic Joe Ceci brought up the issue Thursday, claiming the government’s budget documents outlined a $20 million revenue increase from Environment and Parks.

Approximately $6 million of that money is coming into the coffers from a previously announced $30 trail permit fee for off-highway vehicle users and Albertans with camping trailers.

However, with $14 million unaccounted for, Ceci said it was likely Albertans would be paying more to use campsites – they just didn’t know it yet.

“In Alberta, the landscape is part of who we are,” he said in a statement. “We are campers, hikers, mountain bikers and more. We all go camping to escape from the daily grind, enjoy time with the family, and reconnect with nature.

“Rather than fully fund Alberta’s parks, it’s clear that Jason Kenney is planning to cover up his cuts by nickel and diming everyday families who enjoy the outdoors.”

When contacted about the possibility of a fee hike for campers, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon said that that was indeed the plan.

“Last year was the busiest camping season in Alberta to date, and the province is expecting similar visitation numbers in 2021,” he wrote in an email to CTV News.

“This dramatic increase in parks visitors will result in increased revenue but will also result in some strain on the parks system and on our public lands. As Mr. Ceci himself pointed out, Albertans have expressed that they are willing to pay a bit more to improve our parks system and protect our public lands.”

The fee increases will be in the range of $1.00 to $3.00 per night and will be reflected on the pricing when camping reservations open for the season on Thursday.

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Nixon says the price hike is nothing different from what the NDP implemented while in office. He added that Albertans are behind the idea to pay more as long as revenue goes towards park improvements.

The government has also pledged to employ 50 additional full-time workers to help maintain Alberta’s parks during the busy camping season.

“Alberta’s government will continue to explore options to ensure that our parks system is sustainable for generations to come and that parks continue to be fully funded through an appropriate balance of taxpayer and user revenues. All parks will continue to be public and accessible to Albertans.”

Camping reservations in Alberta open on March 4 while comfort camping sites can be booked on March 5. Booking times are staggered depending on what region you live in.

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