The Prairie View trail near Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, is shown on Sunday, Nov.2, 2008. As the autumn days grow shorter, colder and drearier, there are plenty of outdoor activities in Kananaskis Country, the 4,200-square-kilometre swath of wilderness on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains about a half hour's drive from Calgary. Many hiking trails are still open at lower elevations, and higher up some people are even beginning to strap on their snowshoes.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel

Surge in visits leads to user fee for popular Kananaskis Country

KANANASKIS, Alta. — Albertans hoping to escape to a popular provincial recreation area in the Rockies during the COVID-19 pandemic may soon have to pay for the privilege.

Kananaskis Country, which is about 100 kilometres west of Calgary, has been flooded with visitors — particularly in the past year due to restrictions designed to limit the spread of the virus.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon tells The Globe and Mail that the Alberta government will be bringing in a $90 per vehicle annual fee for visitors.

Nixon says in that interview that Kananaskis exceeded its operational expense budget last year.

He says he has heard from Albertans that they’re comfortable with modest fees as long as the money goes back to the park or the landscape.

Nixon is expected to announce the fee and other changes at a news conference this afternoon.

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