Alberta announces Kananaskis Conservation Pass at a cost of $15 per day or $90 per year

CALGARY — Visitors to a popular mountain area west of Calgary will have to buy a Kananaskis Conservation Pass starting June 1 at a cost of $15 per vehicle per day, or $90 per year.

Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon made the announcement on Tuesday.

Roughly 5.4 million people visited Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley corridor in 2020, exceeding the four million average annual visits to Banff National Park and officials say already this year, more than two million vehicles have been counted on K-Country roads and highways.

Nixon says the increased activity has led to issues with inexperienced hikers and campers, garbage and litter, traffic congestion, parking issues and vandalism.

There were also 428 calls for search and rescue  in K-Country, which officials say was more than Banff, Jasper, Wateron Lakes, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks combined.

The province says all of these factors have added to increased operating costs for maintenance and cleanup.

One hundred per cent of money raised through the sale of passes will be reinvested by the province in the area, said Nixon, including reopening visitor information centres and grooming cross-country ski trails.

Upgrades are also planned for the Canmore Nordic Centre.

New user fees for recreation in provincial parks were recently introduced including a $30 fee for backcountry camping.

The province discontinued grooming cross-country ski trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to allow a private contractor to take over.

Nixon said the passes are tied to vehicles rather than households, as is done for the national park pass program, as the K-Country pass is cheaper and one goal is to reduce traffic.

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