The Alberta government says it is fully or partially closing 20 provincial parks and will be looking to hand over 164 others to third-party managers.
Camping fees are to increase and services, such as setting cross-country ski trails in popular areas west of Calgary, are to be reduced or eliminated.
“Sites removed from the parks system would have their legal park designations removed and could be open for alternative management,” said a government news release.
“This includes potential park partnerships through sale or transfer to another entity such as a municipality … Some of the sites could stay open under a public lands management model or revert back to vacant public land.”
The changes are throughout the province — from shutting campsites at Dinosaur Provincial Park in the south to the complete closure of Kehiwin Provincial Park in the northeast.
The total amount of land involved is about 16,000 hectares. The government says that’s less than one per cent of the province’s parks system, but it isn’t clear if that includes the national parks.
The United Conservative government says the changes, which it calls optimizing Alberta’s parks, will save $5 million in the 2020-21 budget.
A government spokeswoman has said the changes will allow the province to focus on what it calls high-value areas.
The Canadian Press