Need for conservation parking pass kicks off in Kananaskis Country

Visitors headed to Kananaskis Country are now required to purchase a conservation pass when entering the recreation area west of Calgary.

The daily entrance fee is $15 while an annual pass is priced at $90 for personal vehicles. Michael Roycroft is the regional director of Kananaskis Country for Alberta Parks. He says the province is trying to provide the resources it needs for the high level of service Albertans have come to expect in K-Country.

The passes are available online and at visitor information centres and as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4,240 had been sold

"We are able to offer in-person purchases through self-serve kiosks here at the visitor centre at Barrier," said Roycroft. "At the Elbow visitor centre as well as Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre and the fourth location is at the Nordic Centre Provincial Park."

People in the park on Tuesday said they don't mind paying for a user fee, as long as that money stays in the park.

"We should be paying through the general revenues of the province," said Cochrane resident Bruce Pettigrew.

"Through a progressive income tax or something like that to maintain and enhance the parks, not charging people who may not be able to afford it.

"If the province says the money that's collected from these passes is going to be used to upgrade and maintain facilities here, then lets make damn sure they do that," said Don Gregorwich from Calgary.

Roycroft says the revenue generated will be reinvested into Kananaskis Country.

"It will be going to keeping visitor centres open," said Roycroft. "It will provide the resources we need to ensure our public safety team is resourced appropriately, last year alone we had a 51 per cent increase in mountain rescues."

When purchasing a pass, visitors are required to provide their license plate numbers. A physical pass isn't provided like visitors get when entering national parks.

"We will be utilizing that license plate information and then cross-referencing that with license plate reader technology and photo monitoring throughout Kananaskis Country moving forward," said Roycroft.

"Similar to the way city parking authorities work, we will be taking a similar approach to enforcement here in Kananaskis Country."

Right now the province is focusing on education and awareness about the conservation pass. Fines for not purchasing a pass are $150 for personal vehicles and $350 for commercial vehicles.

More information on the conservation pass is available online.