User Fees rears its head again

At the last KTAG meeting, we were told that the government is once again considering implementing user fees for Peter Lougheed Provincial Park ski trails. We need to know what your views are on this, both for and against. Please, EVERYBODY join in this discussion so I can get back to KC at the next meeting in November. There are a great many issues to consider: Is this the thin edge of the wedge?  Should snowshoers be included? Season passes? Seniors?

Share
73 comments… add one
  • HEsp Nov 12, 2012, 9:35 pm

    It’s fair to pay for a service received. Groomed trails are desirable and costly to maintain. I’m happy to pay my share.

  • andy masching Nov 12, 2012, 8:35 pm

    You know I still try to get my head around the fact we live in a tremendously rich province supporting canada in a big way, and we have to pay fees of all sort.But when the pc”s want to tax more outdoor activities like plpp trails it boils me.Not just this all activities not involving a motor.Plpp is my fave and so I am biased but we have to let these people know.only problem is they lied to get voted in and I am sure they will continue lieing to us.See you guys on the trail.

  • C1davo Nov 12, 2012, 8:09 pm

    For all the “riches” this province has, I sure do feel as though I’m being nickel and dimed to death by this provincial government. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re in power for 40 years with little or no opposition.

    I’m not saying I am opposed to a user fee but it a hard pill to swallow when the government hands themselves pension and wage increases whenever they feel like it.

    Government finances are way to complex and not nearly transparent enough for me to understand where the money goes.

    I will back a user fee to go cross country skiing on groomed trails when dirt bikers, quaders, and 4x4ers get charged up their tailpipes for shredding, trashing, and vandelizing our provincial wild lands.

    Regardless of where you stand on this topic let your MLA know how you feel or decisions will get made without public input.

    I now step down from my soap box.

  • Tony Daffern Nov 12, 2012, 5:28 pm

    An article in the Calgary Herald today noted that as a result of the Government of Canada’s deficit-reduction measures, trails in Elk Island National park would no longer be groomed and trackset and some day-use areas have been closed for the season. Hopefully provincial Tourism, Parks and Recreation will find a way to continue grooming Kananaskis Country trails.

  • A MacDonald-smith Nov 12, 2012, 5:09 pm

    Oops sent before finishing the sentence from my note. Sorry.
    Maintenance would be expected to be improved if people have to pay and all trails set daily!

    Paying for use of the park will encourage people to go into other areas of the mountains putting themselves at risk as well as the Search and Rescue teams.

    Damage to fragile areas would occur which would take a long time to recover from. Just look at the damage that has occurred to the Waiporus area with no controls in place.

    It is a great shame that this issue has come up again and would be sad if many people cannot enjoy this wonderful place.

  • A MacDonald- smith Nov 12, 2012, 4:53 pm

    I think that user fees for PLPP is a total money grab. I do not think this issue would have raised its head if Peter Lougheed was still alive. He was a fierce supporter of the park and making it accessible to all Albertans. If user fees come into place many Albertans would be unable to afford the cost
    . With the health concerns about obesity in the population we should be encouraging and supporting exercise for all. Cross country skiing is a wonderful activity as is snow shoeing and hiking. Many people are able to take advantage of this fine facility and should continue to be able to enjoy it.
    There have already been cuts to the park system from track setting to regular updates about hazards on the trails. If user fees are implemented the public would expect a higher level of maintainance

  • Jason Sokolosky Nov 12, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I think users fees are o.k.

    If they had more money than they could do a better job of grooming the trails.

    I’d rather pay than have the trail maintenance go away.

    I donate to the West Bragg Creek Trail Association, and I would definitely do the same for Peter Lougheed area.

  • Maurice Gaucher Nov 12, 2012, 2:55 pm

    A most interesting and vigorous response to Gillean’s call for input. Of the 42 comments most are NOT in favor of new user fees. All of the commentary about which user to charge and how to implement and enforce user fees are best dealt with by Alf Skrastins’s suggestion of an all season “KC vehicle pass” ( the Banff Park gate fee model!). However I have a different perspective.
    All the arguments about budget shortfalls for KC and the dire prospects of less and less “service” miss one important point. Provincial support of healthy outdoor recreation should be part of the health care imperative! The bottom line is that the xc-ski trails in PLP are a high value health asset that is never properly acknowledged by the Alberta government. The cost of grooming from Dec.-Mar. ( 4 months only) are trivial compared to the health benefits that accrue to Albertans during our long winter. To all those that think they should pay a user fee of any kind, my response is that you are letting the politicians off the hook. It is simply a matter of priorities in government spending. Let us all get our collective priorities right. Healthy outdoor recreation is not a niche special interest; it is a 21st Century imperative. Think of all you read about the obesity epidemic and health care costs that are eating up all government budgets. Stop providing politicians with rationalizations for new user fees that steadily increase year after year. We live in Alberta, Canada. We do not need to subdivide our taxes into a plethora of user fees; we do not have to follow the US example.
    Let us support deficit cutting by looking for wasteful expenditures. The outdoor recreation we all value is relatively cheap for government to fund and it is an important part of our physical and mental well being. I reject any call for user fees or for any withdrawal of current services in KC. I agree with Linda Waxvick that the energy used in debating user fees be used instead to ask for an increase in the pitiful percentage of the Alberta budget devoted to parks ( Linda says ~ 0.16% in 2012-2013!) and hence to healthy outdoor recreation.

  • Mary Perrott Nov 12, 2012, 11:10 am

    Ever since cut-backs to parks funding (eg. Sawmill), I have thought that user fees are the way to go. We enjoy XC skiing and snowshoeing in winter, hiking and scrambling in summer. It has become a twice per week health and sanity ‘habit’ that I would happily pay for. We need the XC trail grooming to continue, even expand, as our population in the Calgary area expands, and hopefully more people see the benefits of exercise in the great outdoors. Some seniors and beginners/young children would have a hard time without groomed and trackset trails. I think that an annual pass (for those of us who are frequent users, say $3o) and a daily pass (for occasional users, eg. $5) would be reasonable. Passes could be purchased at various locations in Calgary and Canmore, to make it easier for people to pick up one, and at all visitor centres in K-country.

  • Lyle Wilson Nov 12, 2012, 9:08 am

    When you go for dinner, do you expect to pay for your food?? As an area operator, I face a huge cost every ski season to provide quality skiing experiences to cross country skiers. Start with a $100K+ grooming machine then add countless man hours of grooming time then there is maintenance of the machinery on top, and signage, tree clearing etc. etc. It is a BIG investment. I know that a government operated facility has the benefits of tax $$$ to go into operations, but do cross country skiers really believe that they should have a “Free Lunch” at the expence of all other Alberta taxpayers? Maybe alpine skiing at Nakiska should be free as well. When you look at the hours of enjoyment this sport gives you in relation to the nominal cost/ hour, usually trails fees are in the $10 – $15 / day range, it is one of the cheapest forms of recreation around. I think that user fees that are put back into the facility operations improve the quality of the facility and benefit skiers. Alberta xc skiers have been so lucky to date with the large # of groomed trails available in K Country, but economic times have changed, and Alf S. is correct with his comments that the grooming costs do not get covered, not even close, by park budgets. Free trails in Kananaskis Country also hurt the private operators because they de-value the expences that private operators all pay to provide the public with quality groomed ski experiences. You can’t compare the costs of a hiking or mtn biking trail with the costs of a well groomed ski trail, it’s simply a different experience. If you aren’t prepared to pay for good skiing, go touring in the back country, but don’t expect to cruise over perfect tracks for nothing.
    My thoughts,
    Lyle Wilson

  • Eric Nov 12, 2012, 8:34 am

    The money to maintain and trackset the PLPP has to come from some place .A $2 day parking pass would not be unreasonable ,and the people that cannot afford that probably cannot afford the gas to get here. If it came to a choice of no huts or track setting ,i’m all for a reasonable fee to maintain the PLPP as we have known it .

  • wallace king Nov 12, 2012, 8:27 am

    I am opposed to user fees! Every effort must be made to get people out to enjoy the great outdoors. This maybe hiking, biking, skiing
    whatever the activity and user fees discourage this. We are putting all kinds of money into health care and there is no better way to reduce these expenditures than with a healthy physically active population.
    User fees would be a impediment to this process.

  • Rhonda Jewett Nov 11, 2012, 9:31 pm

    I am in support of a user fee to ski on the PLPP trail systems, especially if it means that the trails will be regularly groomed and maintained. I would hate for the province to stop grooming such an amazing XC trail system due to budget cut backs. I have skied on trails around the world and NOTHING compares to the trails in Peter Lougheed. As PLPP trail users, lets ensure these trails stay open to everyone by supporting a reasonable user pay system similar to the Canmore Nordic Centre: $10 to go XC skiing on perfectly groomed trails is a great investment.

  • Pat Davis Nov 11, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I am going against the grain here, but I think PLPP should charge user fees. I am a senior on a reduced pension, and while I could certainly use the money elsewhere, I believe in paying my way as well. I get incredible value from PLPP, and I would not begrudge the money I’d have to spend.

  • Helen Read Nov 11, 2012, 8:57 pm

    I feel passionate about K-country and the X-C skiing opportunities that exist there. I appreciate not only all the work that goes into maintaining the summer hiking/biking trails but in all the work done to track-set and groom the trail system in its entirety for winter use. The annual adult day pass to ski downhill varies between $600-1000 at Norquay, Nakiska, Lake Louise and Sunshine. CNC adult pass is $150. I would much prefer to pay a nominal annual fee to utilize the PLPP, Barrier, and Shark trail systems for incredibly groomed X-C skiing 5 months of the year than to experience marginal and dangerous conditions.
    “You get what you pay for” or so my mother taught me. I am willing to support trail user fees but would want clearly defined those trails to be set apart for snowshoers vs. X-C skiers. Not only would these funds support the actual trail work, but we all like to enjoy the PLPP and Barrier Info Centres, Pocaterra Hut, and the plowed out parking lots. Thank you to ALL who work and volunteer to make K-country one of Alberta’s most valued resources.

  • Jeff Nov 11, 2012, 8:56 pm

    All in all, I would prefer to ski for free on perfectly groomed trails. Heck, I’d love free equipment an a government subsidy so I could ski instead of work. I’d also want a guarantee of perfect conditions every day, an end to world hunger, and world peace.

    Considering I live in the real world and understand Alf’s point, I’d prefer (reasonable) user fees and maintenance of existing trails over watching cutbacks kill our existing trail systems.

    The key is the reasonableness of the fee, and how they set it up.. $20-$30 for a parking pass seems quite reasonable – though is of questionable fairness to those who ski once a year. They may want to look at two levels – annual pass or imdividual day fee. If the fees are too high are set up wrong/too high, less people will ski, or theyll have a bunch of people park illegally, and they may actually have less total revenue, and if there is enough of a loss of interest in skiing trail maintenance is in fact under even greater threat!

  • Valerie Nov 11, 2012, 8:16 pm

    It would be horrid to see current levels of grooming decline. Perhaps the government could look at what Sovereign Lake does for some ideas: reasonable annual fees, volunteer-driven, and stellar grooming.

  • Sheila Nov 11, 2012, 7:48 pm

    Think of how much the healthy cross country skiers save the healthcare system – truly! Keep that carrot on the stick!

  • lanny Nov 11, 2012, 7:45 pm

    Was wondering how long the government would let us ski for FREE 😀 ….. LOL. Thought this was what my taxes went to…. Pretty soon there will be a user fee for the air we breath.

  • Lynn Podgurny Nov 6, 2012, 3:03 pm

    I don’t want to pay to ski if I don’t have to. But if it’s a choice between paying or not having groomed trails, I’ll pay something. I’ve paid at Stake Lake near Kamloops, and the trails at Sovereign Lake (Silver Star) and the trails east of Edmonton. Those are all maintained by ski clubs I think. For me it wasn’t that onerous.

  • Alf Skrastins Nov 5, 2012, 4:13 pm

    I understand that the cost of XC ski grooming is about $400,000… So yes, it is an obvious target.

  • Linda Vaxvick Nov 5, 2012, 11:16 am

    Alf, I have notes that the lease was $80000/yr a couple years ago, and they owned the old Ribbon Creek unit. But that could be out of date and i’m guessing on gas and maintenance costs. The point is that if you are running a $400k deficit, that one item could be a target.

  • Alf Skrastins Nov 5, 2012, 8:33 am

    Linda, I am not sure that your cost estimate included the $150,000 per year cost of leasing each snowcat.
    I find it hard to believe that people find it easy enough to spend $30-$50 to drive their car out to Peter Lougheed Park or Mt. Shark, and would not be able to pay $20-$30 per year for an annual vehicle pass.

  • Linda Vaxvick Nov 4, 2012, 11:17 pm

    Alf Skrastins, RyderD, and Gillean are right.

    Sam and Tony: I estimate the annual lease and maintenance of grooming equipment for PLPP and Kan Valley to be around $100,000. Plus labour. That’s a conspicuous line-item for one sport, and one liable to attract the attention of government cost-cutters. At CNC the fees do not fully cover the cost of running the place; that’s likely true of swimming pools ice rinks (built by your taxes) where most people seem ready to pay a small fee for specialized facilities. Some think that all sports and parks should be subsidized such that there a no facility fees, but the electorate in Alberta doesn’t seem ready to pay higher taxes to support things that they don’t participate in.

    There are no good data for numbers of XC skiers using Kananaskis Valley trails – we guessed around 60,000 visits per winter back in 2004.

    Of course there are pros and cons to introducing a new fee. While there exists a financial method to ensure that the fee revenue is placed in the budget of the originating department, how do we ensure that future budgets are not reduced by the amount of anticipated revenue, especially in a deficit-cutting era? But I think it’s reasonable to think that government wouldn’t abruptly cut a service that attracts revenue. I suggest that the energy used in decrying fees, should be turned to telling our MLA’s that Parks in general deserve to be properly funded. In 2007-2008, 0.2% of the Alberta operating budget went to Parks; in the 2012-2013 budget, the figure appears to be 0.16%.

    When the XC fee idea was discussed a few years ago in the context of cutting PLPP trail grooming, Alf also said “If we lose trail grooming in Kananaskis, we lose the sport in this area”. Do we want to risk that?

    Jan: XC trail grooming has been prevalent since the late 1970s, two generations of skiers have known nothing else. Maybe the kids would enjoy backcountry skiing but many seniors would find it unsafe to ski completely ungroomed trails. Their choices then would be CNC (fee), Banff park (National Parks fee), COP (fee), or hoping that snow will fall on Shaganappi golf course and that volunteers will groom it at their expense.

    If a moderately priced day pass and season pass were offered, with convenient payment options, on a trial basis, I think the skiing community should back it. Alf has several good ideas for convenient payment. For families, a vehicle-based pass would be best. That might even encourage carpooling.

    Maybe there’s a way of finding a way to subsidize those who would find the XC fee a hardship. Maybe skiers could deduct it from their taxes as a fitness expense?!

  • Angélique Mandel Nov 1, 2012, 9:45 pm

    I would not be averse to paying a user fee in K-country. If truly the park is running at a deficit due to lack of funding from the Government, then so be it, let’s pay user fees. I believe the most effective way would be to pay for a K-country parks pass (a yearly fee). Thus ANYONE using K-country, namely: cross-country skiers, snowshoers, down-hill skiers (at Nakiska), hikers, bikers, runners, climbers, horse-back riders, scramblers, dog-walkers, day-use area users, ATVs, snowmobiles, campers, fishermen and hunters (did I miss anyone?), in other words, no exceptions, also including the lucky few that own a cabin in K-country, would pay a yearly fee. That should generate enough income to keep the trails well-groomed and trackset in the winter and maintained in the summer. I am cognizant that there are people who don’t necessarily always use the trackset trails for skiing or snowshoeing or the maintained trails for hiking (myself included), however, there are nevertheless parking lots and roads to plow and maintain and biffies to clean, etc. As well, often, these same people start their activity on an “official” trail and then veer off. Thus, yes, they need to pay the fee as well. Myself included!

    Let’s, for example, place the fee at $50 per car per year. Amortize that amount over the year – can anyone justifiably complain about that? Take a family (four members), for example, that attend the movies – they will spend over $50 in one evening to see a show, but they can’t spend it to maintain an incredibly beautiful area like K-country that they are able to use every day? If truly you are an outdoor enthusiast, then pay a fee and cut back somewhere else in your life.

    My complaint lies with the logging and oil and gas activities in K-country (ugly clear-cuts, endless roads, odors from the gas plants and the unsightly structures and equipment), as well as the cows besmirching (as my husband put it so well) the trails, parking lots, roads, etc. I wish we could pay them a fee to make them go away!!!!

    Angélique Mandel

  • Alf Skrastins Oct 29, 2012, 7:31 am

    Kananaskis Country spends less money on everything they do than they did before the start of Ralph Kleins term as Alberta Premier. Before Ralph started cutting budgets, Albertas budget was operating at a deficit, which means that we were not paying enough in taxes to cover all of the government spending. Rather than increasing taxes, the Alberta Government decided to cut spending to a level that was low enough to eliminate the debt and the deficit. Under the Stelmach and Redford governments, we have returned to deficit budgets, because spending on health care, education and infrastructure was increased beyond the level that the tax base can support.
    This means that the government either needs to further cut spending or raise taxes.
    We will have the Redford government for 4 more years, so you have 2 choices as a citizen. You can either try to convince your MLA to cut spending on health care, education, infrastructure or some other government function or you can try to convince them to raise your taxes. Good luck with that!
    In four years you can vote for a different government that promises to raise taxes, but I don’t see any parties standing up to make that promise.
    In the meantime, Kananaskis Country gets $400,000 less than they need to operate. In order to operate within the budget they have been given, K-Country managers will have to reduce spending by $400,000. You are free to suggest things that should be cut…trailhead facilities, visitor Centres, Conservation Officers, Rescue Staff. By asking K-Country to get their financial house in order, you are essentially asking to cut those kinds of functions…or to eliminate groomed XC ski trails.

  • Shirley Fitzsimmons Oct 28, 2012, 5:55 pm

    A previous poster said “This year and last year, the Kananaskis Country budget operated at a deficit in the range of $400,000”. So where did all the money go? Before you start demanding user fees (which will start out modest and surely escalate) maybe you should get your financial house in order.

  • Allan Mandel Oct 28, 2012, 8:09 am

    User fees are altogether a bad idea. Since when have we started looking at what they do in the USA as something we should aspire to? The notion that our taxes are no longer funding trail maintenance is somewhat off base- the taxes that were once used for this have simply been diverted somewhere else. This is therefore purely a political issue. I am wondering if there is any way for us trail users to influence the decision-making. Maybe the user fees for ranchers whose cows besmirch many of the trails in K-Country could be increased, in order to cover costs for trail maintenance.

  • Sam Oct 27, 2012, 9:23 pm

    Funding from private entities like hotels is fine in principle, but it’s got to be done in conjunction with strict limits on commercial development in environmentally protected areas like our provincial parks and national parks. Becoming too reliant on funding from hotels and the like would make it awfully tempting for the authorities to allow more development to increase their budget funding.

    To make any real opinion on this I’d really need to see the numbers of what it’s costing, what the usage is etc., but in principle I like the fact it’s funded through taxes. I don’t use the tennis courts or baseball fields in Calgary, but I’m happy for,my taxes to fund them so that others don’t ha e to pay per use – makes for a healthier happier society and that benefits everyone, including me.

  • Jan Oct 27, 2012, 5:21 pm

    If no user fees meant no grooming, then conditions would revert to what it used to like before there was any grooming in K country or in Banff NP. I wouldn’t mind that, although such conditions would probably favour more experienced skiers over beginners! However, to enjoy those pristine conditions would still require that trails be cleared of deadfall at the very least. So my vote would go to a K country (provincial parks) user pass similar to the Parks Canada pass. I also think any commercial venture within parks’ boundaries, e.g. Delta, Engadine, etc. should pay its share.

  • Gillean Daffern Oct 25, 2012, 1:51 pm

    With less of our tax money being allocated to Tourism, Parks and Recreation, our budget-cutting provincial government is going to be taking a serious look at user fees for grooming and tracksetting trails. If you remember, “user fees” was already mentioned in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

    So it boils down to this: With no user fees there will be a reduction or no tracksetting at Peter Lougheed, Ribbon Creek and Mt. Shark. Is this OK with you? Are we so used to trackset trails that we can’t do without them? With user fees there would hopefully be an improved level of grooming and tracksetting and more up-to-date reports on trail conditions.

    Does the fact that, unlike the CNC which abuts Canmore, these three networks are remote from a large centre of population have any bearing on the issue? With user fees should we expect more infrastructure, such as a warming hut at Mt. Shark?

    And what about Ribbon Creek? In today’s Calgary Herald there was a half-page ad by Delta Lodge advertising “the endless cross country and snowshoeing trails.” Don’t you think the hotel should kick in some money since it is obviously a big draw for them?

    There is one week left in which to comment further.

  • Robin Oct 17, 2012, 7:03 pm

    I do not support user fees. Services such as these ought to be funded and adequately so, from taxes to ensure that the widest possible opportunity to use them is available to those who want to do take advantage of them in ways that are compatible with preservation.

    Our taxes are too low and the use of them often wasteful and not reflective of our values. Reducing government commitment to recreational opportunities such as exist in Kananaskis Country is ludicrous. Change the government.

  • Sam Oct 16, 2012, 7:38 pm

    I would like to see exactly how much the grooming of trails costs. There have been a few examples from the federal government of cutting back on services like this that in the big picture make really no difference to balancing budgets. My fear is that introduction of fees would lead to an expectation of an even better service (I think they do a great job already) and resentment of paying if anything’s below less than perfect. It’s hard to quantify the good that services like this do in terms of health and general well being, but I think it’s pretty significant. It is a tough dilemma though and I do think high level users (like me) should feel very fortunate that it is paid for currently through taxation.

  • Clive Cordery Oct 14, 2012, 8:49 am

    Although I would rather the funds came out of the tax base , I would be prepared to pay , what would hopefully be a modest fee, in order to continue the trail grooming. It would at least ensure that trails were groomed immediately after a storm. It would be nice if the Alberta government saw the health benefits in having the amazing cross-country skiing at PLPP maintained by Alberta Parks staff and pitched in. I would not think it appropriate for snowshoers or backcountry skiers to pay , as they make their own trails and do not need groomed trails.

  • RyderDA Oct 11, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Yes, Parks is funded with tax revenue, but Alf is correct that there’s no where near enough money to fund what users want out of Parks (and everything else they want from Government like health care and education and no deficit), including trail maintenance, both summer and winter. Access to every Provincial Park that makes up K-Country is absolutely free. As a comparison, very few State Parks in the US are free. Most have at least a parking charge, and full-up day use fees are very common, summer and winter. Think about that free access to K-Country when a helicopter comes to rescue you — a helicopter that costs you nothing. Visitors from afar whom I meet in K-Country are astounded that it’s free to do pretty much everything except camp in K-Country.

    Groups like the Friends of Kananaskis exist because there’s no such thing as Trail Fairies to build and maintain hiking & biking trails. We volunteer to work on the facilities that Park’s can’t, or to leverage Park’s limited trail care money with free labour

    XC and Snowshoe trails are not built or groomed by waving a magic wand. If anyone on this forum wanted to start grooming the Sawmill ski trails again, I’m sure no one would mind, but you’ll pay for your own gas and snowmobile and groomer — your very own personal user fee. Wanting beautifully built and groomed trails and comfortable heated huts but not wanting to pay for them, or expecting them to be paid for out of limited Parks funding, is naive.

    Backcountry is, I think, different. Other than a parking lot, there’s no facilities, so a “trail user fee” is inappropriate. But if you come to, say, Sunshine Village and want to ride the gondola to access that back country at Healy or Citadel Pass, you get to pay for using Sunshine’s facilities. Similarly, I think if you use the Mt. Shark maintained facilities to access the backcountry, it’s fair to expect to expect pressure to support those maintained facilities in some way.

    User fees are a viable alternative in that if you don’t want to spend the fee, no one is forcing you to use the facility. Personally, I think a simple parking charge at lots (or more practically, in a zone around an existing lot, to handle spill out onto roads) would suffice ($2/day?) especially if an annual parking pass was available — so long as all the parking revenue stayed in the park!

  • Alf Skrastins Oct 10, 2012, 9:05 pm

    For those who think they are paying for trail grooming through their taxes, you might be surprised to learn that Kananaskis Country does not actually get enough money to pay for the cost of trail grooming or much of any other kind of trail maintenance. The budget for Parks in general has DECREASED ever since Ralph Klein was premier and the money available for trails is a fraction of what it was when Peter Lougheed was premier. There has been no indication that the Redford government has any interest in increasing funding for Parks, as long as there is the demand for more funding for Health Care, Education or Infrastructure.
    This year and last year, the Kananaskis Country budget operated at a deficit in the range of $400,000. In order to operate within their budget, Kananaskis will either need to further reduce some operations or service (like trail grooming), or raise revenues through user fees, or get an increase in budget from the government.
    If you, as a taxpayer, can’t convince your MLA to support a larger budget for Alberta Parks, then there are several alternatives that could be considered:
    1. Individual user fees (like at the Nordic Centre). This is the most cumbersome and expensive method to administer and generates the lowest percentage of net revenue for each dollar spent by the user.
    2. A “Snow-Pass” vehicle parking pass which would be required to park at any trailhead that had groomed trails. This is common in a variety of US states.
    3. A “K-Country vehicle pass” (like a Parks Canada Pass). This would be fair and potentially low cost, because it would generate revenue from all users, not just a single activity.
    4. Turn the trail grooming responsibility over to a club or association, (as is currently being done with the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association in Bragg Creek). The designated group would then be responsible for doing the grooming and generating the funds from trail users in some way.

  • Ron Read Oct 10, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Slippery slope (sic). I oppose any idea of user fees for trail access. If introduced, I’ll just keep going farther west to find backcountry to ski in. The comments re: Sawmill are well taken, and raise the question of whether we as users are willing to take on some of the trail maintainance responsibilities rather than pay for the service through user fees.

  • Tony Howes Oct 10, 2012, 7:54 am

    Why are we talking about taxing only one user group here? Seems a little strange to focus on only one. IF a fee of some sort is really needed, then it should be spread out over a larger base than just skiiers. Also, what about the “professional” schools? Should the casual user be charged to help support businesses like Outdoor Program Center and others who use the same areas for financial gain? Perhaps they are already being charged for access… I have no idea.
    In my mind, I realize there is cost associated with grooming trails, but some more thought needs to be used to establish where money should be found.

  • Henry Doornberg Oct 10, 2012, 6:27 am

    I would not want to see this kind of “user tax” imposed on any x-country ski trails at all. Rather, the costs incurred to groom the trails should be done through an increase in funding from the tax base to the park operators. Keep it free for the users. That’s the Alberta Advantage!

  • Wilma Rubens Oct 9, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Peter Lougheed Park is such an incredible resource for Albertans and in the spirit that is was created – lets keep it available for use by ALL Albertans.

  • thepassionatehiker Oct 9, 2012, 6:56 pm

    The idea of user fees is not practical. It would very likely INcrease the costs to the Government for extra people to enforce it. It might also possibly cause safety issues as people find other (free) places to ski which are not safe.

    My concern is that very gradually some of our favorite X-C ski trails may no longer be groomed, or not as frequently, or access roads and parking areas no longer plowed, making them inaccessible. They do a really good job today of grooming the PLPP trails, and then keeping the trails report up to date almost every day in winter. It would be a huge loss if they somehow decided to cut back on this as a way to save money. So we do need to keep a really close eye on how the Government reacts to OUR very justified reaction. The risk is we lose thro user fees or we lose thro closed/ungroomed trails unless we can persuade those in power that neither is a good option.

    I may be wrong but has the Government not already cut back on some of their trail grooming in K Country? For example Sawmill, and others?

  • Patricia Oct 9, 2012, 6:27 pm

    I agree with those who have commented before me. So if skiers are going to be charged, will hikers be charged in the summer? The trails are maintained in both seasons, perhaps differently, but there is still maintenance none-the-less. Why pick on the poor winter sport participants! Cross country skiing is a fantastic opportunity for families to be active and appreciate the amazing natural world (winter version), so close to home. Please don’t start charging user fees!

  • Ian Hunt Oct 9, 2012, 6:22 pm

    I will not pay to ski on a groomed trail it’s that simple. We pay enough tax as it is. It would be grossly unfair to tax one user group and not others. What about summer use hikers, climbers, bikers etc.
    So would I have to pay if the trail isn’t freshly groomed ? What aboput if I enter a groomed trail from the back country as part of a bigger trip? Or what if I need to use a groomed trail for a short distance to enter the back country.

  • Giulliana Oct 9, 2012, 6:11 pm

    As a family who just started skiing , it will be terrible not to be able to ski for free, I am totally against to pay any fees for X cross country ski.

  • Kathy Hunt Oct 9, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Please, NO user fees, I won’t ski at the nordic centre because of the fees there (and I’m fine with that), but don’t take away affordable, healthy recreation by adding user fees. However, as far as I am concerned, if there’s a fee it’s for everyone, snowshoers and skiers.

  • Sandy Chilton Oct 9, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I too like everyone has posted so far are against user fees for x-country ski trails. I am even more against them for snowshoeing particuarly because as a snowshoer we often create our own trails so why would we pay for that?

  • Tanya Oct 9, 2012, 5:17 pm

    I encourage all families to take up Cross country skiing and snowshoeing because they are budget-friendly activities. In a society filled with obesity and children who prefer video games to hiking, do we want to make one more activity too expensive for the average family to participate in? I am absolutely against trail fees for Cross country skiing in Kananaskis.

  • Pippa Martin-St. Onge Oct 9, 2012, 5:15 pm

    I am vehemently opposed to user fees in Peter Lougheed Park. That’s what I pay taxes for!

  • Julie Oct 8, 2012, 8:17 pm

    This would be terrible. I already don’t downhill ski because I can’t afford it, and I think twice about x-country skiing in Banff because of having to pay for the park entrance fee. We should be making this sport as accessible as possible because the health benefits are so amazing.

  • Rod Plasman Oct 8, 2012, 10:32 am

    Gillean:

    I am totally against user fees, we already pay for these facilities through our taxes.

    Hope you are well

    Cheers
    Rod Plasman

Leave a Comment