The end of grooming in Kananaskis

I’m posting this update for my readers to offer their comments about the provincial government’s plan to end grooming in Kananaskis.

“Beginning fall 2020, there will be no groomed cross-country track setting in the three main areas traditionally groomed by government staff in the Kananaskis Region. These areas are: Peter Lougheed, Mt. Shark and Kananaskis Village area. Grooming will continue to occur at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Track-setting will continue to occur in the West Bragg Creek area, done by the West Bragg Creek Trails Association.”

Steve Riggs submitted this comment earlier(these are relevant talking points for a letter-writing campaign)…

“Makes no sense at all. Wasn’t there a announcement by another arm of the government recently about the importance of promoting tourism, and economic diversification? Is this a prelude to handing over grooming to a private, for profit operator? I for one would be willing to pay for an annual XC ski trail pass at Ribbon and PLPP, as is the case in most other xc ski areas. Or, maybe better- a park pass as in the national parks.”

I received the following email from a reader…

I would be okay with a fee for service. I happily pay for my park pass and also contribute to Bragg Creek trail funds when I choose to ski there. I would be okay with an idea like that for Kananskis as well.  Just wanted to note I do not need a freebie, but I do want to see these ski areas continue.”

I am 2500K away from the snow in Kananaskis right now, and am preoccupied with an urgent family matter.

156 Comments:

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  1. Elizabeth Snowball Beggs

    Exercising outdoors is an acknowledged route to improved physical and mental well being and increased longevity.

    Any reduction in the opportunity to exercise will lead inexorably to a reduction in the benefit of exercise.

    It is therefore depressing that the Kenney government is intending to discontinue track setting and grooming in a number of provincial parks.

    Skiing in most of its forms is one of the few outdoor winter sports accessible to seniors. For them track setting and grooming is almost a necessity. Without it they are less likely to participate and cross country businesses will decline. Meanwhile, and for a short time only, business at the unaffected locations will increase. But these facilities will become overstretched and customers will start to shy away.

    The decision to summarily stop track setting in some parks smacks of thoughtless haste. It was thrust upon us with no attempt made to explain the cost benefit nor, so far as we know, to assess the upsides of a user fee.

    Mr Kenney, please help us to stay healthy and revoke the decision to discontinue track setting and grooming in Kananaskis, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Ribbon Creek and Mount Shark Trails.

    Thank you

    EJSB.

    • I believe it is worthwhile to consider what will happen if the the trails are not groomed as well. I imagine a there will be a hardy group of skiers who will continue to go out there and set their own tracks. At the same time I also imagine there would be a few snow-mobiles who’ll take the opportunity to venture across the border from Elk lakes (I’ve encountered “avid outdoorsmen” in Yoho Park on the Bow-Yoho traverse). Fat bikers will probably want to use the trails as well and since they are not being groomed it will be harder to make the case for prohibiting them. Also since fatbikers will have the option of E-bikes they will be better able access and use the trails compared to skiers.

      Seems to me that keeping the trails groomed and avoiding conflicts and controversy may be simpler and more cost efficient in the long run while enjoying the side benefits of providing a healthy outdoor experience for a good percentage of the population as well as many tourists.

  2. Julie Sommerville

    Please continue to groom trails at PLPP, Mount Shark and Ribbon Creek. These three areas get well used by many skiers.
    I would definitely pay a user fee or for an annual pass to keep the grooming up.
    Cross country skiing in these areas is a joy. These trails are perfect terrain for this type of sport. Cross country skiing is quite affordable, great for fitness, and so much fun for many people.
    Thank you

  3. Peter Lougheed had a concept of the “public good” when he created these parks and services. Should we let a new political party, whose leader wasn’t even born and raised in Alberta, destroy this legacy?

    All I have seen so far of the UCP government is the financial rewarding of plush political appointments to boards and high-salary inside jobs to their cronies. The $30 million dollar/year ridiculous War Room is a good example of a waste of money paid out by Alberta taxpayers. It has made Alberta a laughing stock across Canada and beyond. Corporate tax cuts to billion dollar businesses is another, with very little evidence of any jobs generated from that.

    For single income families like mine, cross country skiing has been a viable sport when so many others are out of our price range. Now that the kids are grown, they still come out to ski as often as they can.

    As for a park fee and user fees, we have several National Parks right next door already competing for those same dollars. That is why Alberta’s provincial park system has been fee-free all these years. How many Albertans can afford to pay for both, especially now? Personally, I think it is high time we get off the unstable royalty roller coaster that pays for basic services and infrastructure, and start paying a PST like every other province. If we had done that years ago, we would have a generously sized Heritage Trust Fund today.

  4. FORMER GROOMER/SROAM

    For those who think it is a good idea to charge fees for tourism and health supporting cross country skiing think about this:

    Would you want to pay for tolls on roads?

    Would you want to pay the full cost of your health care?

    Would you want to pay for the cost of putting out your house fire?

    One for all and all for one. It is better for the economy and all involved.

  5. Hello there

    I totally disagree with negotiating/starting discussions moving toward a non profit or for profit taking over the running of winter operations in K Countray as a first tactic.

    Once a strong minded individual (or in this case government) sees weakness/any signs of acceptance, all is lost.

    I feel a smarter first tactic is strong condemnation by all is the best first approach, and I am very disappointed that some Nordic Ski clubs and associations have issued arguably weak press releases and public statements on this matter.

    Cross Country Alberta is assembling a round table sort of collective to address this decision to end winter trail maintenance in K Country who likely will be meeting in the next few weeks.

    I have firsthand information from a 2+ hour phone discussion this week with an Alberta Parks insider on how this decision came about to begin with, and also all the work that encompasses running nordic ops for Parks. The last time this decision was put forward years ago, there was strong public pushback, and in the end, the manager lost their job.

    It is not reasonable to say volunteers can take Nordic operations in PLPP over for so many reasons. In the next few days I will share some of the data and facts and figures and reasoning behind this statement that I have from firsthand information.

    1) Most grooming and track setting must be done at night in PLPP and in a graveyard shift because due to safety reasons grooming and tracksetting can not be done during the day in PLPP because it is so busy.

    2) Since the death of a West Bragg Creek Trails volunteer, volunteers in Alberta are not allowed to do any chainsaw work unless certified to do so alone through a strict certification process and it is nearly impossible for people from a volunteer organization to get certified due to the strict requirements which make a tonne of logical sense. It is my understanding that the West Bragg Creek Trails Association (WBC) has to pay contractors whenever there is chainsaw work to do on their trails. There are many occasions in which there are trees across trails in K Country, and the past 3 years have seen winds over 100km/hr resulting in hundreds of downed trees.

    3) Volunteer organizations tend to be fraught with problems keeping skilled volunteers as the friends of Kananaskis Country can attest. The Friends of Kananaskis Country did a survey asking volunteers about volunteering and a HUGE amount of respondents said the demands of the job were too much work. Volunteer organizations such as WBC have been fraught with troubles and strain over the years some due to background issues behind the scenes so-to-speak and also funding challenges and WBC keeps facing funding challenges, according to my source.

    Please, I beg you to not cave and then put on the “we/somebody else can take it over” hat as a first response.

    Someone recently mentioned when things like these budget cuts happen, this is when some people choose to put on the greedy hat and figure they can turn this into a money maker for them.

    Please pause, protest, and protest loudly!!!

    Online petition about cuts to Parks: (please try to ignore the rhetoric and sign for the common good…)

    .https://act.leadnow.ca/dont-let-kenney-privatize-nature/

    Online petition specific to cuts to winter trail maintenance in K Country:

    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/minister_of_environment_jason_nixon_keep_trail_grooming_and_track_setting_alive_in_kananaskis/details/?fbclid=IwAR1hTC0-Mvz4_TAaWTA8p9991u6By39G01gkeSamInq0ZG6gEXCGa-afzoo

    Outdoor protest rally for Calgary:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/568391263765367/

    Please consider a few phone calls and written approaches:

    Write letters (I hope of strong protest and condemnation) to the following 8 parties and cc the official opposition in all correspondence to the government:

    The official opposition (it is important for the official opposition to be cc’d in on these letters to have a somewhat accurate gauge of how many letters of protest the government is receiving.)

    NDP Caucus
    5th Floor Edmonton Federal Building
    9820 107 St NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5K 1E7
    780-415-1800

    Email: NDPCaucus@assembly.ab.ca

    The premier

    https://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_contact&rnumber=16&leg=30

    The minister of the Environment

    https://www.alberta.ca/AlbertaFiles/Includes/DirectorySearch/goaBrowse.cfm?txtSearch=Office%20of%20the%20minister&Ministry=EP&LevelID=14799&varExpandID=-0

    The Finance Minister

    https://www.alberta.ca/AlbertaFiles/Includes/DirectorySearch/goaBrowse.cfm?txtSearch=Office%20of%20the%20minister&Ministry=TBF&LevelID=74276&varExpandID=-0

    The minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

    https://www.alberta.ca/AlbertaFiles/Includes/DirectorySearch/goaBrowse.cfm?txtSearch=Office%20of%20the%20minister&Ministry=EDT&LevelID=128021&varExpandID=-0

    Your MLA

    To find your MLA, go to the web address below, and slowly start typing in your street address:

    http://streetkey.elections.ab.ca/Index.cfm

    Nordiq Canada

    info@nordiqcanada.ca

    Cross Country Alberta

    cca@xcountryab.net

    manager@xcountryab.net

    My very unsolicited two cents but for things this important, I don’t give a d#*n!

    Thank you.

    Linda

  6. This decision will affect thousands of Albertans. I would be willing to pay an entrance fee to keep grooming the trails and to maintain the visitors centres.
    Compared to Health and Education I understand that Parks Alberta are not the top priority, but I question the provincial government approach to eliminate the deficit. They are still using the boom and bust approach. The stability provided by a provincial sales tax and user fees would be a more realistic approach when facing economic downturns.

    • Agreed. Provincial Taxes is the way to go, unfortunately

      • Also, remember that this government just gave a tonne of money in the form of tax breaks to corporations in this province….and then is cutting all these services.

      • FORMER GROOMER/SROAM

        Ramon, the poor, laid off people and many families can not afford to pay for skiing, that is why many people cross country ski in places like Peter Lougheed Park.

        Alberta has the lowest taxes in Canada and we can afford our services, but instead the government would prefer to shift the wealth to corporations and the excessively wealthy. The 1% do not deserve any more wealth and it is time to start spreading the wealth around to create a better economy.

        If we have to pay to use our parks, then should we not have to pay to use our roads? I don’t want tolls on trails or roads.

        Stop Kenney from making Kennyberta.

        • Very bad times ahead of us. The poor wont be able to afford XCountry ski and many other things. Better to have secure health care, educations and other basics. I am not an economist but I understand the best way to favour work creation is to easy the situation to work creators, small and big companies (corporations). I agree with the reduction on taxes to them. And I am in favour of PST. Alberta hasn’t been living out its fantastic manpower or technology or creativity. It has been living out of oil. Period. And those days are gone (at least in the short medium term). The rich Province of Canada won’t be any longer and we need to start getting awareness of this fact. We need PST (in my opinion) if we want to keep everything we have (at least the basics). Btw, why a Government is going to favour only 1% of the wealthiest, knowing that measurement is very unpopular and will create a lot of grief (preventing them from wining elections again) unless there is merit on it?. I dont have the magic recipe, nobody does,… but creating more jobs while guaranteeing the basics is the only way out,… The rest must come from our pockets.

      • I disagree.

        According to one source within the Alberta Government, there is merit in the argument that if Parks took back the privatized campgrounds within K Country, that revenue stream would pay for winter Parks operations in K Country that are currently on the chopping block.

    • Remember that you are a part of the privileged who can afford to pay fees. Many individuals and families in Alberta can not.

      If Parks took back privatized campgrounds in K Country, on could argue that the revenue stream from campgrounds would be able to fund not only winter operations in Parks but summer too.

    • Keep in mind that you are speaking for the privileged when saying you’d be willing to pay a fee. Many Albertans can’t afford such a thing.

      Remember there was a huge corporate tax break given, and now there’s a budget slashing a bunch of services.

      The two aren’t related? Perhaps.

      Parks need to take back the privatized campgrounds in K Country, as I have been told that revenue stream alone would likely pay for winter and possibly summer operations.

    • Remember stating you’d be willing to pay a fee you are a part of the privileged. There are many whom can not pay a fee, and that may in part be why PLPP/K country is so popular.

      There is also the argument that quite possibly taking back all the privatized campgrounds in K Country would fund the winter Parks operations.

      One source stated that 3 million to 4 million cars annually travel down Highway 40.

  7. HI Bob. Is there somewhere we can email to comment directly to the government about this decision? I agree with the reader’s comment about being willing to pay a user fee to use the trackset trails, but am also wondering if their decision might be influenced by a large number of protests (offering suggestions for what can be done to continue tracksetting) directly to them?

  8. IF you want to comment on the recent changes to Alberta Parks …
    Which are as follows…
    1. Barrier Information Centre and Elbow Centre Closing
    2. End of winter grooming in Mtn. Shark, Peter Lougheed, and Ribbon Creek (Kananaskis Village ) Area in 2020-2021 Winter Season
    3. Fee Increases to some Campgrounds
    4. Closure of Some Dayuse Areas (washroom facilities, and garbage removal) Eg. Sibbald Meadows Pond

    Follow this link :
    Scroll to the Bottom to write a comment to our premier.
    https://www.alberta.ca/contact.cfm#forms

  9. Good morning everyone. I am reading the comments about this topic and disagree with almost all of them. The Province is broke. That is a fact: not oil, not money. As XC skier and as a citizen I want to see cuts before in recreation and Provincial Park rather than having those cuts in Health Care or Education (where there are also cuts). The main resource of the Province is oil, and without it, there is nothing (thinking otherwise is lying). I agree with tax relief to corporations, if they leave the problem will be even bigger. It is very sad the Province wont groom anymore Kananaskis, disgrace for all of us. We, XC skiers and normal citizen, should partner and try to maintain the tracks in partnership with AB Provincial Park, the same way is being maintained in West Bragg Creek. Quotes, membership fees, entrance fees,… are possible ways to finance the maintenance (notice that I have not idea how much is the season cost). My 2 cents. Thanks

    • so you’re actually agreeing ith many of the comments here. Reason being is most here wouldn’t have a problem dipping into their pockets in order to facilitate trail grooming. Many of us including me pay for that privilege already at the Canmore Nordic Centre

    • The biggest problem is many governments including this one have worked against diversification of the economy and moving toward renewable energy for example like other more progressive economies are doing. The result is the AB economy is chained to the oil industry.

      There are numerous reasons why volunteers maintaining trails in PLPP won’t work well, if at all. West Bragg Creek (WBC) has been fraught with organizational problems and also funding problems over the years, according to someone I spoke with recently.

      The Friends of Kananaskis Country can attest it is hard keeping volunteers when the work is regular and difficult. A survey of their volunteers confirmed this aforementioned information for them.

  10. I never thought the leopard would eat MY face, sob the xcountry skiers who voted for the Leopards Eating Faces Party.

  11. The honourable Peter Lougheed will be turning in his grave this evening. Shame on you Kenney. I am reticent to use the word holistic should it be construed As a left wing conspiracy but hey, let’s keep people healthy and out of the doctor’s office and hospitals and get the f**k skiing!

  12. I fear there is a push for either a non profit or for profit group to take over Nordic ski operations in PLPP (what about Ribbon and Mt. Shark?) with people thinking it’s easy, anyone can do it. That statement is very far from an accurate statement.

    Suffice it to say my opinion has gone back to keep it in the hands of Parks staff, and goes further to say keep campgrounds in the hands of Parks, as they are HUGE revenue generators which translates to offsetting if not completely paying for Parks operations year round!

    Privatization arguably means lower standards, and definitely means lower wages that are usually minimum wage, not a living wage.

    Many Parks in Alberta have taken back the summer operations from private operators because of the simple fact that summer operations are revenue generators.

    Notice in the budget cuts that summer campground operations are being scaled back in the campgrounds Parks still runs!

    Lastly:

    There is a chance the “Optimizing Alberta Parks” is a regurgitation of information from the “Rationalizing Alberta’s Parks” document which was the Conservative government’s Parks Management cutback plan that was created a long time ago (possibly decades) which I was told was then voted down at the time by their own party.

    Facts and figures, and also dollars such as tourism impacts will speak volumes. Stats from hotels in K Country.

    Funding cutbacks? There also is the argument the oil patch can be given tax breaks and yet the gov’t can’t spend some money on Parks?

    Discussions are under way around the idea of forming a collective to weigh-in on the government’s decision to cease all Nordic operations in Kananaskis Country and also to Nordic operations that are closer to Edmonton.

    This group is collectively so far different user groups (aka Nordic Clubs); Nordic operators comprised mostly of non profit societies, some with paid staff and others which are all volunteer run; Cross Country Alberta, and Nordiq Canada.

    If your group wants to take part, please email me: shagnordicATgmailDOTcom

    Linda M

  13. A couple legislative documents of interest:

    One is the Kananaskis Recreation Policy under Klein in 1999, the other is Provincial Parks Act dated December 15, 2017.

    A section from the Provincial Parks Act states: under Section 3 (d) Purposes of Parks:

    “to facilitate their use & enjoyment for outdoor recreation, education & the appreciation & experiencing of Alberta’s natural heritage, and

    (e) to ensure their lasting protection for the benefit of present & future generations.”

    The same idea is under the Purposes of Recreation Areas, so I fail to see how this government is adhering to this current legislation!

    I am by no means an expert but to my understanding our parks are protected lands…

    I sent an email to the Environment Minister, I signed the petition & shared the petition on fb with outdoor groups, if anyone has any further ideas or can draft a letter referencing this legislation, please share so we can further support our opposition to this governments’ plans.

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

      Our Parks are not protected from corporate predators, like Premier Jason Kenney, who want to take more of your money.

      Kenney wants to take more of your money out of your wallet to give to corporations. Over $4 billion in corporate tax cuts is leading to park privatization.

      Demand a referendum on park passes before costly park passes are jammed down our throats. Demand real democracy, not Kenney jamming policy undemocratically down our throats.

  14. Also: “Groomed and track set cross-country ski trails will continue to be maintained in Peter Lougheed
    Provincial Park and at Mt. Shark in Spray Valley Provincial Park. ”

    Has there been a subsequent act passed that takes away these protections and objectives?

  15. Further included in the below document:

    ‘The proposed management objectives in order of priority are:

    Preservation: to preserve or enhance naturally occurring ecosystems including
    especially rare or uncommon species and to ensure that natural ecological processes are allowed to occur.

    Outdoor Recreation: to provide opportunities for recreational uses such as camping,
    hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, boating, and fishing.

    Heritage Appreciation: to provide opportunities for visitors to experience, understand
    and appreciate the natural resources of the parks.

    Heritage Tourism: to provide opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy high
    quality natural, cultural and scenic resources through provision of appropriate sustainable tourism facilities and services. “

  16. This document dated April 2006 by the Alberta government concerning the management of Peter Lougheed Park and the Spray Lakes Provincial Parks:

    https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/11f0ff98-4da4-4e17-a410-2a8c6ec901f8/resource/7e769544-3ef0-4793-ae07-5d31f3992ca4/download/2006-plppsprayplan-webversion.pdf

    It mentions that “The Peter Lougheed/Spray Valley Provincial Parks Area Management Plan provides a long-term
    vision and day-to-day guidance for stewardship of this Protected Area. The plan was prepared
    within the context of existing legislation and regulations. It outlines the type and extent
    of outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities, facilities and services including the delivery
    of heritage appreciation programs that assist Albertans and visitors to understand and appreciate
    our natural heritage while ensuring its ongoing preservation.
    The Management Plan was prepared with extensive public input and will be reviewed and revised
    periodically to reflect the current thinking of Albertans about how our natural heritage will be
    preserved for present and future generations.
    The Minister responsible for Parks and Protected Areas has authorized the implementation of the
    Management Plan and retains the authority to amend or interpret its provisions.”

    It clearly states that our natural heritage is to be preserved for present and future generation, that there was extensive public consultation and it is a Protected Area!

    I have to delve into the document, however, wanted to share this as I am under the impression that our parks were created to protect them from the ideas that this government is implementing….

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

      Dam fine work Sharon. I am impressed with your quick research. It would have taken me days to find that legislation. I will have to read it over after skiing tomorrow.

      This province needs more people like you to dig deep. Keep on digging up information to post and keep on skiing.

      Demand democracy not Kenneyberta oligarchy.

  17. I am devastated at the governments’ move to close parks & stop grooming our beloved ski trails in Peter Lougheed & Kananaskis.
    They suggest that CNC & West Bragg will suffice. I’m not sure West Bragg consistently has good conditions & I don’t think those 2 areas alone will support the population of skiers especially when you include snowshoers, walkers & fat bikers. I love the variety of trails that we have & would rather pay an annual pass (ski/hike) to maintain & groom the trails then have those areas closed. Could the staff at Barrier etc provide any stats on the number of users? Could the businesses indicate how much revenue they will lose by these measures. Beyond economics, outdoor activities & cross country skiing are excellent forms of affordable exercise which promotes better health improving the provinces health expenses. I think it is short sighted & greedy of the government to undertake these plans without any consultation with the stakeholders. Families with young children are sharing these activities with the next generation. Beyond economics & health benefits, we have a treasure, our parks that have to be protected!

    • Also, it’s a different skier who skis the CNC regularly versus PLPP. West Bragg gets inconsistent snow year to year, and sometime soon there likely will be another low to no snow year there as well.

      Stats on vehicle traffic in the winter would be helpful.. One could FOIP that if necessary. One source stated 3 million to 4 million cars down highway 40 a year.

      Someone needs to contact the Hotels in K Country for their winter data. Suffice it to say the Hotels were asking about having snowmaking installed to make nordic skiing more consistent around the village in the lean snow years, but the costs were prohibitive.

  18. We need a petition specifically for the ski trails and not just for the privatization/park deletion idea, which is a separate problems (which Nixon denies exists-see his Facebook page!).
    Speaking of Facebook, we need to be bombarding the social media accounts of Alberta politicians, especially Kenney and Nixon, with comments informing both the politicians and the public of our disapproval of suddenly terminating these decades-old ski areas with no consultation and no middle ground.

  19. It is time to write your MLA, the minister of Environment and Parks and Jason Kenney. Here is the email address for: The Honourable Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, 323 Legislature Building, 10800-97 Ave. Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6 aepminister@gov.ab.ca

  20. Our family would definitely pay a fee to use the trails! We will be losing out on so much if they discontinue keeping these trails open to the public. It’s important for health, tourism and family enjoyment. U bet if you check with the hotels and restaurants in the areas they will also suffer. Please reconsider and like I said a fee would even be worth looking at. Debi Lowther

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

      We all can not afford fess to use the trails. The trails should be free like in other jurisdictions to promote health and tourism. It is a part of the Alberta Advantage.

      Referendum before fees and a referendum on corporate tax cuts as democracy is needed. Rule by people not the Kenneyberta oligarchy.

      • The trails are free. You’d be paying for the grooming. Trails don’t need to be groomed to be utilized – there’s an entire spectrum of light-touring and backcountry skis that cater to this reduced carbon footprint activity.

        Same as the water from your tap is free, you’re paying for the treatment, metering and distribution – not the water.

        • FORMER GROOMER/ SROAM

          YYC, would you want to pay for road tolls? Maintaining cross country trackset trails is far cheaper than maintaining roads.

          Would you want to pay for your all of your health care like in the USA?

          Would you like to pay for your fire services when you have a fire?

          One for all and all for one is cheaper and it improves the economy. It is the same with cross country ski trails. The benefits go farther than what you can obviously think about.

          • That’s perhaps a somewhat false analogy, comparing necessities that everyone requires to luxuries like skiing. Lots of fitness activities involve user fees, and every other jurisdiction charges for grooming and tracksetting. Premium ones like Gatineau, Sovereign/Silverstar, Callaghan charge $20+ + per day. Smaller ones in Golden, Kimberley, Revelstoke, Hinton, Crowsnest charge ~ $12-15.
            We already pay for roads through fuel taxes; tolls do sometimes happen for new infrastructure in other jurisdictions, eg Cocahalla in BC. Health care? Quite essential, but hopefully we evolve toward a blended user pay model like several European countries. Not sure what health care in USA has to with skiing in Alberta anyways….

  21. XC skiing and exercise in general is how I cope with all the other terrible things happening in this province and world. I’m sure I am not alone in this.

    It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you are on in regards to oil and gas, or the direction of the province at this point in time, these parks are what ground us all. The lack of consultation or consideration of how to move forward is concerning and unfortunately quite a common occurrence as of late. I hope we can unite together as exercise and recreation lovers to make the necessary changes to save our beloved parks. I am unsure who the best person to contact is as my MLA has been quite dismissive of other issues I’ve brought forward. How do we all move forward in a collective way that is meaningful?

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

      We don’t need to save our parks as you suggest, we need to save ourselves from anti-democratic UCP politicians who had no democratic mandate to take away XC skiing from the citizens who own the parks.

      We move forward in a collective way by being a skier nation with political clout and demand the government reverses its undemocratic decisions that they did not discuss in the last election. The skier nation must be as political as possible- no matter how much people may hate politics. Politics affects every aspect of our lives including the air we breathe or snow that falls (pollution content).

      Alberta has the money to support all sorts of things like what occurs in other jurisdictions.. Kenney is just eliminating them undemocratically to provide more wealth to corporations.

      We must demand real democracy to protect ourselves from anti-democratic politicians. Bill voting rights 4 U is what this is about. You making decisions not corporate backed politicians. Get democratically and politically active.

    • Contact polititians and sign the 2 petitions.

      Finance Minister, Premier, Tourism Minister, MLA, and Parks Minister.

      cc the official opposition in all correspondence you send in so they see the pushback.

      Official Opposition:

      NDP Caucus
      5th Floor Edmonton Federal Building
      9820 107 St NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5K 1E7

      780-415-1800

      email:

      NDPCaucus@assembly.ab.ca

  22. I wrote both a “snail mail” as well as an electronic letter to Jason Nixon, Environment and Parks Minister as soon as I learned this today. CC’d it to Kananaskis lodge, as the tourism argument was valid.

  23. It was almost too good to be true that we had access to this for decades, all for free.

    Does anyone else remember back in the glory days of the late 80’s/early 90’s where there was a hot tub, pool and sauna at the village, free for anyone to use?

    The Nordic centre was also free for years after the Olympics before they wised up to fees.

    There also used to be a minimum security prison nearby and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see inmates shovelling snow. I think the Conservatives got rid of that too.

    Collecting $5 or $10 per person at a gatehouse would be a great alternative. That’s the way it is in pretty much every other province. I’, surprised they didn’t go that route.

    Hopefully enough of us get in touch with Mr. Nixon to make them change their minds.

    • I think the hot tub went to $2! But yeah, the heydays, why do we always piss it all away? Comeback, we promise to save this time! LOL

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

      Collecting money for fees for something that is suppose to be protected in legislation is not an alternative. The alternative is too fight anti-democratic UCP SOBs with the power of the people.

      The Kenneyberta Government had no mandate to make changes to our parks while giving corporations over $4 billion in tax cuts. The people would have not voted for them if they made fees an election promise.

      Democracy not park fees. At least a referendum which is only a temporary spurt of democracy.

    • That wouldn’t work, and here’s why.

      CNCPP has one entrance, and needs staff at the building regardless.

      PLPP has many parking areas, entrances, and no common track area to even monitor a tag system.

      The Province would have to hire multiple people on multiple shifts in order to sell admissions and monitor use.

      There would be zero cost savings, as all that money would be sunk immediately into wages.

      • Maybe an annual park pass like Banff, Jasper etc, perhaps ~ $100, along with parking fees at selected mainly XC trailhead lots, like Cross Conservation has started, ~$10 instead of grooming fees. One full time employee to patrol parking lots and enforce/ticket vehicles as in Banff. Two free days a week for those unwilling or unable to pay. More crowded, but free. Consider grooming less often, or leave a few as skier set. Partner with the non profits that show a “can do” attitude, (FNSC/Confed?), let the Parks focus on chainsaw work for trail clearing etc. The sky is not falling folks, even if the price of oil is.

  24. I want to correct an earlier comment that I made. Gatineau Park, outside of Ottawa, has a lot of similarities to Kananaskis Country. It serves as a recreational haven for locals, and offers facilities for biking and hiking in summer, and for cross-country skiing in winter. There are numerous areas for people to enjoy picnics, and at least one lake where a private operator offers canoe and kayak rentals. It is the heart of outdoor community in Ottawa, just as Kananaskis is dear to the hearts of outdoor-loving Calgarians.

    A few years ago, the governing body for Gatineau began outsourcing trail grooming and instituted a trail-use fee. I earlier suggested (incorrectly) that this was free. I’ve since asked a few locals, and cost is $20 for a one-time use, or you can buy a season pass for $200. I’m told the condition of the trails is excellent. It seems to me that the model works well for Gatineau. I see a similar structure at the CNC (as someone else pointed out). I’m wondering if it can work well for K-Country.

  25. Everything for the parks over the past 10-15 years was paid for by oil and gas revenues. Now it is coming home to roost for the anti-energy people. Time for trail fees. If not then then those people can drive in their electric vehicles, put up a blockade at Hwy 40, and have a temper tantrum. People pushing Leadnow as a vehicle to a solution? They are the anti oil and gas clowns that caused the loss of revenues and hence the park budget cuts.

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

      Andy, you are completely wrong with your statements. You suggest “Everything for the parks over the past 10-15 years was paid for by oil and gas revenues.” This is inaccurate as people pay a lot of income taxes in Alberta and there are other industries like logging, farming, gambling, food stuffs and manufacturing that pay taxes which go into government revenues.

      Your comments are highly discriminating and out of order when you suggest “Time for trail fees. If not then then those people can drive in their electric vehicles, put up a blockade at Hwy 40, and have a temper tantrum. People pushing Leadnow as a vehicle to a solution? They are the anti oil and gas clowns that caused the loss of revenues and hence the park budget cuts.” You are totally out of line with such comments.

      What do Park fees have to do with electric vehicles Andy? Absolutely nothing.
      Also Highway 40 has a winter blockade every year!

      Furthermore, as any economist understands it was not “anti oil and gas clowns” that caused the loss of revenues in the oil industry as you suggest. If you have a very short memory let me remind you oil use to be over $140/ barrel going back a decade or so. It dropped in price due to horizontal drilling and fracking which greatly increased the available oil reserves around the world. This dropped the oil revenues along with bad government decisions. Canada has 32 exporting oil pipelines alone. Alberta has lowered oil royalties by 43% since Peter Lougheed was in power. Numerous Alberta Governments were unable to balance budgets when oils was over $100/barrel.
      Norway has far more oil wealth than Alberta but produces less oil What we have in Alberta is incompetent undemocratic governments that give the wealth away to predominately foreign corporations and elites.

      Anyone who thinks environmentalists are responsible for all of Alberta’s economic problems does not understand economics knowing the above information. We have had bad governments that are the real clowns. The current government gave corporations over $4 billion in tax cuts against the advice of most economists. This has increased the deficit and it was done on purpose by Kennyberta and his UCP puppets. This is one of the reasons why Kenney wants to cut xc skiing and privatize parks.

      If you voted UCP you encouraged Kenney and his anti-democratic actions. Next time vote for a party that promotes real democracy so the people are in power not corporate backed politicians who blow our wealth away like coke.

      • Bravo Bill! And thank you <3

      • “If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.”

        ? Thomas Sowell

    • Parks used to be nearly self supporting, according to someone I spoke with recently, and one of the main problems contributing to Parks funding is privatizing campgrounds. Some parks have taken back the campgrounds from private operators in Alberta due to the fact that campgrounds are huge revenue generators.

      Leadnow unfortunately goes too far with rhetoric and character assassination in the Parks petition which then turns off more conservative-leaning folks.

      Leadnow, if one looks at their Values, for me at least, I share every one of their values as stated in their vision.

      https://act.leadnow.ca/vision/

      I understand those in the oil and gas industry being threatened by organizations like Leadnow who campaign against an economy and government dominated by oil and gas industry values and also whom protest against governments and government policies designed to fight against/slow down/ prevent diversification of the provincial economy which is what this government has been doing in many different ways.

      It could be argued that these groups are looking at the long term health of the planet, and that is the motivation behind their actions.

      It’s about looking beyond the rhetoric introducing that petition and looking to the common good or main message behind what signing the petition means: being against the budget cuts to Parks.

  26. Make sure you call and email the Environment Minister:
    Jason Nixon
    780-427–2391
    aep.minister@gov.ab.ca

    It is not unusual for governments to make a bunch of unpopular announcements at once. Then they monitor the ones that get the most blow-back and save face by reversing those decision. So make a Ruckus everyone!

  27. I will gladly support any petition, and will write letters, but based on their actions over the last 12 months, I expect this government will be tone-deaf. I don’t think that they care about the well-being or health of this population, and we would be seen as a small special-interest group and not really worth their attention. Their interest is in the bottom line and this is how we should approach this problem.

    I agree with Bob, that we need to look at practicalities and costs. WBC have done a tremendous job and it would be good to determine if that model can be applied to other areas, such as PLPP. It would be good to have the WBC people provide some guidance here.

    How much would people be willing to pay for trail fees and would that even cover the cost of grooming?

    What type of governance process would we need to organize and what is the best way to approach the government if we want change?

    If it comes down to it and we could only pick one area for grooming in K-country to consolidate our efforts, which of the three would that be? PLPP? Mount Shark? Ribbon Creek?

    • If Trail fees have to be collected, and not just on a donation basis, then it is about getting a commercial contract from the government to operate in a Provincial Park. They would have to put out a tender, and have a competition for a concessions contract. I remain unconvinced that a volunteer group could operate in the entirety of the Kananaskis system. Maybe they could do one area, but it would have to be circumscribed , and it would have to be a really dedicated group of volunteers. If I had to pick a place to maximize revenue and Trail fees, it would definitely be ribbon Creek. Ribbon Creek would probably work as a commercial concession, or a volunteer-run area. Revenue would likely be greater with a commercial concession and mandatory Trail fees.

      • Hmm, quite often Ribbon doesn’t have good conditions for cross country skiing…I know the location is adjacent to businesses, but I think Peter Lougheed has the best conditions for the season.

    • I’m not sure I agree with picking one venue. Firstly, I’d want to push for general user/trail fees to cover the parks. If that was unacceptable, then a collaboration of the various xc ski clubs, friends of kananaskis, other user groups and the nordic alliance might help coordinate efforts.

      I note that Mt Shark is more out of the way, but well used by training and biathlon groups. Ribbon Creek/Kananaskis Village area might have the hotels adjacent be motivated to take on grooming? Which would leave Peterlougheed, which has truly been a star destinations for xc skiing.

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

      People who are poor can not afford fees. It is regressive. The parks were designed to be for the people at no cost as they belong to the people.

      Kenney wants to change things undemocratically. He had no mandate in the last election to make changes to the Parks. He should call an election before making changes to the way the parks are operated or hold a referendum.

      • “It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.”

        – Thomas Sowell

    • The best first approach is protest, loudly and strongly. The first moment a strong minded individual (or in this case government) gets a whiff of acceptance, the fight is lost.

      There are numerous reasons why it is best for the Parks staff to remain maintaining the trails in K Country.

      WBC and their organization has been fraught with different troubles and challenges throughout the years some behind the scenes and definitely funding is a constant challenge. Remember most people saying “I’ll pay” are people of privilege, and many can’t afford to do so regularly. Many can’t afford the CNC.

      The best approach is protest…letters to gov’t officials cc’ing the official opposition; physical protest; and petitions.

      One could argue if Parks took back all the privatized campgrounds in K Country, they could then afford to fund the winter trail maintenance.

      Some parks in Alberta have taken back the privatized campgrounds as they are a huge source of revenue.

  28. The decision is appalling in so many ways but let’s put lack of consultation or consideration of cost saving alternatives(including user fees) near the top of the list. As an aside, I hope they haven’t been spending $250k annually leasing the cat. A brand new Pisten Bully 600 with accessories(way more than is needed for XC grooming) is under $400k to purchase.

    • Remember the leased vehicle comes with all maintenance. Parks staff over the years have found the most cost effective ways to run winter ops, and through the 20+ years of maintaining the ski trails in K Country, this is the best operation model.

  29. This is very sad news, but not surprising from the UCP. There is money for corporate handouts, tax cuts and the embarrassing ‘war room’ yet little money for public services that make life worth living in this Province. We need to demand better. This is our home. It is all about priorities.

    I wonder if the Mt. Kidd golf course will be impacted at all by the cuts to Parks?

  30. Trail fees should be a non-starter. Jason Kenney is giving a $4.7 billion tax break to wealthy, profitable corporations. Why should we pay to subsidize their bottom line? Governing is about priorities, and the UCP has demonstrated their priority is corporate welfare over the wellbeing of Albertans. If we’re in such dire financial straits we should start by cancelling the plan to lower corporate taxes even more.

    Whether it’s cuts to healthcare (thousands of frontline jobs being eliminated, doctors contract being torn up), cuts to education (15,000 new kids per year and no additional teachers), cuts to post-secondary (500 jobs lost between NAIT and SAIT alone), and now cuts to ski grooming, the UCP has sent a clear signal where their priorities lie.

    • But just wait…in about 3 years money will start flowing (as is usually the trend one person mentioned) then voters suddenly get amnesia. It has worked in the past and likely will in the future.

  31. The Kenney Regime, I would assume, has fewer supporters in the Nordic skiing community than in other winter sports such as snowmobiling. What annoys me is how there was zero public consultation around introducing user fees for groomed ski trails in K Country and other provincial parks. I hope this isn’t a step towards opening these areas to snowmobiles and other ATV’s (that might be conspiracy thinking so I will remove my foil hat).

    I think we need to accept that the days of the Alberta advantage are over and that our provincial finances are in lousy condition. I fully support a user fee for groomed trails at Shark, PLPP and K Village. Ideally, less than the $15 for CNC… maybe $10 for adults $5 for kids. Tickets could be sold at electronic kiosks and volunteers could monitor that people skiing on groomed trails have trail passes. An annual pass would give access to all three or perhaps an option to combine it with a CNC annual pass.

    I don’t think we should waste our breathe trying to convince the Kenney Regime that the health benefits of Nordic skiing will save the province money over the long term in savings from healthcare. I propose a digital petition to get AEP to develop a strategy for user fees to maintain groomed ski trails, and to do so quickly so it’s in place for the 2020-2021 ski season!

    • I wonder how much consultation, forethought and discussion went on behind the scenes by management at AB Parks, regarding options other than total cessation of grooming by park staff? From the news release- it sounds like a done deal, with no mention of outsourcing Kananaskis trail grooming services in the list of sites proposed for “partnerships”.
      I did a brief search as I was curious about fees in other areas, all in BC.
      Silver Star- 55 km groomed DAILY- Annual 240, senior 170, Day 20 and 17 respectively.
      Sovereign Lakes 50 km groomed DAILY- Annual family-480, Individual day- 19, senior 16
      Larch Hills- 57 km, 33% groomed daily, annual 135 day 15
      Nipika- 50 km, annual 75, day 12
      What I get from the above is that we enjoyed a really good thing for “free” for a long time, but now have to face up to user fees for grooming, and maybe for park use in general. Hopefully with enough pressure, AB Parks could reconsider and make it work. A number of factors make me think that the WBC model would not be viable, especially at PLPP – distance from population, less multi-use, more regulated.

      • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

        Lottery funds could finance trails. So could raising back the corporate tax cuts Kenny brought in for his supporters. Park fees are for wealthy people. Poor people can not afford fees and there are enforcement issues.

        The parks are suppose to be for all. Poor people will be left outside which is just not acceptable. Fees are barriers to entry and there is no need for them.

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

      Fees are not fair. If I want to go to Bryant Creek from Mount Shark, I should not have to pay a fee. There is no other alternative unless I bush wack.

      I do not accept that the Alberta Advantage is over. I am too intelligent to lay down and take the crap from the UCP. They are creating an economic structural problem on purpose and undemocratically. Giving corporations tax cuts of over $4 billion to create a race to the bottom unnecessarily at the worst time possible is stupidity according to most economists.

      Patrick, you also want tickets sold at electronic kiosks. Well there are still people out there that do not use anything but cash. If there are cash boxes out in the bush they will get broken into. Also fees are a regressive tax. Poor people will not be able to afford to ski. How many laid off workers do you know that can afford to pay extra fees?

      People who support fees are falling into the slippery hands of Kenney and that is exactly what he wants. Don’t suck up fees without a hell of a fight.

      United we stand. Don’t cave to Kenney so soon without a fight.

      • Cash boxes exist already at many first come first serve campgrounds throughout the forestry. No break in issues so far.

        Lots of skiers break trail all the way to Assiniboine/Naiset, way past Bryant. Not groomed past Spray River. WatRidge Lake flat, easy, grooming not needed. Take up snowshoeing if XC too pricey. All the health benefits of groomed XC, much closer to nature, the original intent of preserving these lands.

    • The best argument is dollars. Tourism.

      Take back provincial campgrounds in K Country from private operators and voila! Winter maintenance costs can most likely be recovered.

  32. Perhaps the Calgary Flames, through the Flames Foundation, could finance this activity, as an acknowledgement of the largesse recently shown them by the public sector?

  33. Also: there was ZERO public consultation on this matter.

  34. YES! Remember, the government is employed by US. Let’s make ourselves, heard, loud and clear by our elected representatives. MLAs do take letters (especially hard copy) seriously and this is our time to flood their mailboxes. WRITE LETTERS! PHONE YOUR MLAs OFFICE! If you have time: SET UP A MEETING!! Let’s protect our public spaces!

  35. Sabrina,

    I think it is a valid analogy. Moving forward things have to be financially sustainable from the perspective of the overall population. As time goes on we all expect more government services, yet whine when taxes go up. Sadly something like grooming XC trails is at the bottom of the list that taxpayers are willing to pay for.

    I stand by my point that the government should not be in the business of providing recreational facilities or support (grooming, trail maintenance) as they clearly suck at running something without sky high labor costs, management costs, etc..

    What about the downhill skiing areas? Can you imagine what a financial disaster that’d be if they were run by the feds in the National Parks and the province outside of the parks?

    I look at it from the perspective that it could be so much better if it was run with a collaborative effort of volunteer groups and private business.

    Sorry AUPE..

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

      Elk Stew, there are a lot of examples around the world where governments run smart businesses. Health care is one- USA spends double on health care as it is private. Postal services in various countries do well.

      USA and Canada have bailed out GM and others to keep them afloat. Alberta use to own Nova Gas Transmission that was profitable. Petro Canada was profitable before being sold when oil prices were low in the 1990’s.

      Norway has its own well functioning oil companies. China is kicking ass with government run businesses. Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest profitable oil company.

      Only good smart governments run good profitable businesses. Bad governments can’t and we have bad governments. that can’t even balance budgets when oil is over $100/barrel.

      So we need a better government that can run things better for the people. That includes our parks.

    • I disagree that labour costs are sky high in gov’t. They pay a fair wage for the expertise, and a living wage. The skyhigh costs tend to be with the overabundance of middle management bureaucrats.

      Take back the operation of campgrounds in K Country and most likely that would fund winter ops, as they are big sources of revenue. User pay may work, however remember not everyone can afford to pay and a bunch of folks going to William Watson likely can’t afford to pay.

  36. The UCP spends 30 million for the energy war room, no money left for provincial parks. Sad to see what the new Alberta advantage has become.

  37. Is the Provincial government open to user fees in K-Country instead of outright elimination, or is this a done deal? What will they do with the grooming equipment that has already been purchased and used in those areas in K-Country? That is not an inexpensive amount to just let stand idle and rust. How does this fit in with the Province’s wanting to double tourism in Alberta? And, eliminating groomed areas in the front country will place increased pressure on the Banff area cross country skiing, which already is not a priority for Parks Canada (Parks Canada has put most of their resources into Lake Louise’s x-country skiing).

  38. I think WBC is not a good analogy here because Kananaskis country, in terms of services and maintenance is not catering to that small of a population. I think we are underestimating the footprint of K Country. In 2017 (the last year we have Visitation Statistics for), domestic tourism (so not counting out-of-Canada visitors) accounted for 5.24 million person visits. 60% of those visits were overnight visits in hotels/resorts/motels or other commercial properties. After summer (which accounted for 39% of visits), winter is the second busiest season (23% of visits – that’s about 1.12 million person visits in winter alone). This is a substantial portion of Alberta’s overall tourism (which was about $36.9 million person visits total). Honestly, it does not make any financial sense to let K Country be run entirely by volunteers. It’s a bad business decision, and will have economic impacts.

    • A Banff study showed over 11% of park users in the winter travel to Banff for nordic skiing…

      file:///C:/Users/Redhead/Downloads/_06_2019.04.01_D3_LRP_Markets_Appendix_11.2_FINAL.pdf

      Volunteers should not run PLPP for a huge host of reasons….which hopefully will be listed soon.

  39. Welcome to nu-Alberta. Live by the sword die by the sword.

  40. I’ll go a bit against the grain here- although it’s disappointing this is really no surprise as our Province is functionally bankrupt. I don’t believe the Province should be in the business of providing recreation facilities and support as they can’t figure out how to run any department without massive overspending and inefficiencies!

    I believe a more sustainable model is something like the WBC Trails association (which we should all have to buy an annual membership for!!) Give this group and others the legislative authority to charge an annual membership. This would enable a few key paid staff, a solid volunteer support staff and a more steady revenue stream.

    This would be a much more sustainable solution than the Government hiring Government workers to maintain trails for the few (in % of overall population) that use these trails in the winter months.

    • I can’t say I disagree. I do think that the government will need to do a better job of enabling volunteers.

      I think the protest here will need to focus on ensuring a sustainable passing of the torch to special interest groups (like WBC). The current volunteer structure places too much limitation on the efforts of non-employees (e.g., no power tools). Even a season of disuse will make the reclamation effort too large for volunteers to handle.

      • Tawny ,
        A volunteer died running a chainsaw building trails for people like you to enjoy. When is a safety concern considered a limitation? This is sad news I agree but there are highly trained and skilled government workers that have spent decades maintaining the the trails you love now in the span of two days you are ready to throw them out with the melt water.

        • I am very much aware of that tragic incident. I would love very much to keep the current professionally-maintained structure. A user fee would help to maintain the trails professionally.

          But, if we are left with no choice, volunteers will need to maintain the trails. Either that, or the trail system will need to be entirely privatized if we are to enjoy xc skiing at all.

          If we are left with volunteer maintenance, issues like the safety concern you mentioned will have to be addressed sooner than later. If volunteers cannot operate the machinery required for trail maintenance, then there will be no trails.

    • If our province is functionally bankrupt, why aren’t we tolling highways or pausing ring road construction, asking volunteers to clean up orphan wells, or expecting the Calgary Flames to finance their own facility? Ever see a dream home lottery to raise funds for new lanes on Deerfoot or the QE2?

    • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

      Elk Stew, the useless UCP government needs to be changed not our park. The xc ski grooming creates a lot of economic spin off effects that most people do not understand unless they understand economics. The government is generating revenues with ski grooming but they want corporations to get a hand in it foolishly as that will cost more money and reduce economic spin off effects while keeping poor people off the trails.

      • Bill, that kind of rhetoric will guarantee you get ignored by the government. Especially given the recent financial issues due to Covid-19 and the oil price war. Initiate a discussion with a reasonable proposal, much more likely to make progress.

    • If Parks took back the private campgrounds in K Country, it could be argued that revenue alone would pay for the current operational model for winter and summer trail maintenance.

      What happens when WBC has a low to no snow year…if they sell seasons passes? WBC seems to be so super awesome but that organization has been fraught with troubles and struggles over the years behind the scenes as well as funding challenges… and don’t forget that they received around 4 million to help them from one of the provincial governments.

  41. I would really like to hear what Skier Bob has to say about this once he’s back from his emergency. I believe he’s a staunch supporter of the conservative government. I think he’ll probably say he supports paying a fee to keep them open. If this was the NDP government proposing this I imagine people (and probably Skier Bob) who say they would pay a fee to keep them open would be more upset and wouldn’t be willing to pay a fee. Just saying.

    • Good point. I hope that whatever side of the political fence folks are on, however, they remember that this level of cuts is a sneaky move by the UCP and was not stated in their campaign. It is a bait and switch that will hurt so many Albertans, not to mention the decades of conservation efforts that have gone in to making these parks so precious.

  42. Wow! Surely the health and tourism benefits outweigh the cost to groom? If grooming does actually stop next season, the snowshoe/fatbike/ski/Walker mayhem will be unbridled, if the parking lots remain plowed. ACC hut traffic at elk lakes will be interesting. Maybe they will groom (as we also await what happens at shadow lake lodge). Time for friends of Kananaskis and WBC trails association to expand as a form of protection against private development/industry. Probably a good deal on a piston bully coming up. Couch HQ in PLPP will remain open! (If one can get past a maze of downed trees that won’t get removed during the winter season.) Trails like fox creek might cease to be maintained at all. The only real reason for any maintenance in PLPP will be the fire lookout, the hydroline and the elk lakes ACC hut. And what, decommission the pocaterra warming hut, vs. Keeping it locked but still heated to prevent water damage? Interesting times. I’m glad I have light touring and AT skis, if I’m allowed to set a human powered track wherever it is possible to do so.

    • Not sure a volunteer group would even be allowed to groom trails in PLPP. The local cycling advocacy group in Canmore was trying to get permission to groom the fat bike trails at the Nordic Centre since the staff has a hard time keeping up with even grooming the ski trails since the last round of cuts. No go since it is a Provincial Park, same with the other trails such as Highline or Benchlands being in a Wildland Provincial Park. The local group, CAMBA, isn’t even allowed to do trail maintenance on those trails.

      It doesn’t surprise me the free grooming is coming to an end. The cost vs number of users is just too high for this government to see the benefits. I’m sure the Canmore businesses will feel this next winter when there are fewer Saskatchewan and Manitoba cars with xc skis on the roof in town.

      • Alf and friends of Kananaskis could probably address this better. But it is possible to secure through contractual arrangements the provision of previous government services for trail building and maintenance. Requires having strict policies and practices in place along with training and a full and robust safety regemin, insurance, etc, just like any commercial construction crew for example, that also mesh perfectly with provincial policies and objectives for the area. It’s a matter of legitimacy. Neither WBC or friends of K country are strictly geared to a single use/user or purpose. WBC has an approved “master plan” for the area that alleviates the need to approve each trail build.

        • The issue at CNC may be more about subcontracting out, either because it would be in conflict with their current contractual arrangement, or to “unqualified” people (in the sense of meeting all the requirements, not just knowing how to build a good bike trail).

          • I think letter writing, both electronic and paper, needs to be done. I also think a personal drop in to Miranda Rosin’s MLA office in Canmore might also help to get the point across. Maybe if hundreds of users and constituents physically ask her to publically speak to this issue we can get some answers.

      • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4U

        Hi Greg,

        Can you prove the cost vs the number of users is too high for this government to see the benefits? There is no study that I know of that suggest the economic spin off effects are not there. I see a lot of people skiing out there. Economic spin off effects even include savings on the health care budget from people being more healthy as a result of xc skiing. Then there are the gas stations, car sales, food sales, tire sales associated with travelling to ski areas not to mention more.

    • Exactly! Most likely tourism was not considered with this decision..

      I have been told PLPP is a world destination spot for x-c enthusiasts. Tourism stats need to be researched.

      If word gets out that the trails are not maintained, then whoa… I could see the destination x-c ski tourists going to Vancouver and the Callaghan/Whistler area instead.

      Parks needs to take back the privatized campgrounds in K Country then it sounds like that alone would fund year round trail maintenance in K Country.

  43. That’s really sad news. Especially when we should be encouraging active lifestyles that will lower health care costs later. Especially in the winter!

    I live in S. Ontario and if you want tracked trails you have to pay, even at the provincial parks. Although I’d love to ski for free, I’m happy to pay a nominal fee (usually 10 dollars at the parks) to support grooming. Good grooming is worth it. I’m even fine paying 30 dollars at Hardwood as their grooming is awesome, meaning you can ski much earlier and later than at other places. They do amazing things with small amounts of snow! Even there, XC skiing is still cheaper than most other sports.

    Now I’m sad I didn’t get to ski there the last time I was home and went skiing. Canmore was fun, but the K Country is the best!

    • Juuust remember the privileged can afford to pay for nordic skiing. There are many low income individuals and families who utilize K Country trails in the winter who would not be able to do so.

  44. I agree completely with the comment that providing some kind of fee that would enable track setting to occur. After all we pay an annual national park fee. I would not be upset to pay an Alberta provincial park fee in return for trail grooming and other services.

  45. Here is a link to the list of MLA’s in Alberta.
    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_report&memPhoto=True&alphaboth=True&alphaindex=True&build=y&caucus=All&conoffice=True&legoffice=True&mememail=True
    Write them ,phone their offices. Get your friends, relatives and buddies next door to phone and write letters.

    Groomer Bill

  46. So this is the three places I would suggest STARTING. Contact info included for your convenience.

    Miranda Rosin MLA Banff-Kananaskis.
    403.609.4509
    Banff.Kananaskis@assembly.ab.ca
    —————————————
    Dave Rodney executive director for Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

    1 855 678 1295 xt 701

    dave@tourismcanmore.com
    —————————————-
    Rocky Mountain Outlook
    https://www.rmotoday.com/submissions/letter-to-the-editor

  47. This is heartbreaking. Cannot sleep well this night. A big chunk of my living in Alberta is amputated.

  48. Ugh, this is simply awful. I’d be more than willing to pay meaningful trail/park fees ala the national parks. Even the parks delisted and for private partnership (which will mean what exactly??) are well loved hiking areas. And closing Barrier Lake visitor’s centre?? I thought Kenney wanted to boost tourism not cut it. For those interested:

    Petition: https://act.leadnow.ca/dont-let-kenney-privatize-nature/?fbclid=IwAR1seP82bMjM0B6FuNNIT-xEWHXpy1BRls6TytJRU9YZfzQzhAx1CmEfQQ4

    Sample letter: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTqzeMo8yEyGAVA1GufuSrJZtDYNzwCyxxNMiVcUMu30pQatMetAwB5nJtL_jDc973RLFCRQYeUl5c2/pub?fbclid=IwAR0PFnm6notLwULMlWRtxRWhsybBn8VqVEd5mORyWaBmchg_Iw-wpcPgKSs

    Contact email: https://www.alberta.ca/AlbertaFiles/Includes/DirectorySearch/goaBrowse.cfm?txtSearch=Office%20of%20the%20minister&Ministry=EP&LevelID=14799&userid=14800#14800&varExpandID=-1

    I’m unaware of legislative petitions, but would be happy to sign.

    • Jennifer Hinnell

      Thanks for this. I’ve added the link to the Edmonton Nordic facebook page so hope to coordinate letter writing to our MLAs using this. Really great head start with your materials. THank you.

  49. Hate to say but I think this is part of a larger plan to force a drop in user numbers. If they can show that, then they have an excuse to flog these areas off to industry. If you approach 10 people in Alberta and ask them if they support cost cutting measures like partial closures in provincial rec areas and parks, half or more will most likely say yes because they don’t ever use them and have no idea what they are saying yes to. Turning campgrounds over to for profit outfits would go largely unnoticed, and with the exception of people like us, killing services like track setting wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.

  50. This is so sad… My spouse and I were just starting to explore all the trails in these areas and we’d definitely be okay with paying to keep having access to them. It’s incredible that they don’t even bother asking the population before making changes like that. This is not a democracy…

  51. Teachers, nurses, doctors, and concerned public citizens have written thousands of letters to this government about cuts to vital public services and have been ignored. I’ll join a petition and write another letter regarding XC ski trails, but this government isn’t interested in the public good, only the bottom line.

  52. Do give your head a shake if you didn’t see this coming last April. Kenney has clearly demonstrated his inability to heed public discourse so don’t expect things to be much different than what Klein did to AEP services 25 years ago -remember what tracks at PLPP were like then?

  53. Here is some important information for a letter:

    Our parks provide economic benefits to surrounding communities. Revenue from Alberta Parks from 2018-19 was $33.4 million. However, when looking at the economic impacts of Alberta Parks on surrounding communities, the results are far greater. In 2011, Kananaskis Country supported a total economic impact of $202.5 million to the region. Tourism in Kananaskis provided wages and salaries that exceeded $125.4 million and in the same year $117.2 million in tax revenue accrued to all three levels of government. Ensuring provincial funding for quality public services, sufficient front-line staff, and conservation of species will continue to support tourism and provide economic benefit.

  54. Wow. This, and the closure of the Barrier Lake visitor centre, are probably the most unbelievable in the full list of proposed closures and delistings of Parks and Recreation Areas https://albertaparks.ca/news-events/

    K Country’s ski trails are a jewel for quiet winter recreation. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about trail fees etc as the platform-promise Trails Act surfaces in coming months.

  55. I’m more than happy to start a digital petition if other users feel this would be helpful?

    Written letters are great, but a digital petition allows for dissemination amongst the user group and its supporters – this is likely the best way to drum-up the most unified opposition to the cuts.

    Let me know!

  56. Write letters! I’m amazed that the government didn’t even try to impose a pay-for-use system.
    I hope there will be a transition period in which the government is willing to work closely with special interest groups to sustainably transfer care of these areas (not just skiing) over to responsible groups.

    • Time to look for a new province to live in.

      • Which other province provides XC grooming for free?

        • Alf, I believe the Gatineau Park just outside Ottawa provides track-setting for skiers. I do not know what the pay/cost structure is, but I can find out for you.

        • A user fee would be fine. But the current government didn’t use brains or heart to even offer that solution. All Kenney knows is to rape and pillage the people of the province while giving billions away in reduced taxes to corporations. It the attitude of this government I would like to escape.

  57. Unbelievable – there will be almost nothing left! WBC will probably end up so crowded it’s not even enjoyable.

    I agree I would be willing to pay a park user fee like for federal parks- to just get rid of everything like this is crazy.

  58. Bob, do you know how much the government actually spends on these trails? That could be useful information when writing letters etc.

  59. People come from far and wide to ski these trails. This is going to cost Alberta tourism revenue. What a stupid, shortsighted thing to do.

    • Trouble is, the gov’t likely didn’t even take that into consideration so facts and figures on that are really important to use as an argument against this!

  60. This is a real shocker! The Kananaskis area is vital to the Canadian Rockies as a whole. It gives us all options throughout the winter and keeps the skiers spread out. To condense us all into fewer areas would take away from the outdoor experience. The remaining cross country areas would become overcrowded much like the downhill skiing resorts. We already have to fight for parking spaces during the summer months to do some of our favorite hikes because of heavy tourism. The infrastructures need to be maintained to provide quality of life.

  61. My comment: WRITE LETTERS! This needs to not slip under the radar.

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