The province of Alberta is permanently shuttering four campgrounds and reducing services at another 15 sites that officials say are chronically underused and cost too much to maintain, accordingto the Calgary Herald.
In all, 239 campsites — or less than two per cent of all provincial campsites — will be closed this season, saving the province about $250,000.
“We needed to allocate our resources to our most popular and highest used sites, so to be able to do that, we reviewed our usage and our maintenance costs across the board,” said Camille Weleschuk of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
The 19 sites chosen for the changes are low use, have nearby alternate camping opportunities and have high maintenance costs, said Weleschuk, noting four closures were a “last resort.”
John Nelson, 22, gets out camping in Kananaskis as many weekends as possible through the season. But he and his buddies spend at least one week at the Oldman Dam site — a popular windsurfing spot that is one of the locations slated to be converted to day-use only.
The campsite, near Pincher Creek, is a hidden gem on the “bald prairie,” said Nelson, and he’s disappointed he won’t be able to camp there anymore.
“It’s kind of sad to see the numbers going down instead of up,” said Nelson, an assistant manager at Campers Village.
Weleschuk acknowledged that some Albertans will be disappointed but said the changes are necessary to help the province best allocate resources.
In all, four sites will be closed, including the Raven provincial recreation area in central Alberta as well as Southview, Kehiwin and Coal Lake.
Jensen Reservoir, Kakwa River, Maycroft, Notikewin, Shuttler Flats, Stoney Lake and Sulphur Lake will end their seasons on Labor Day rather than mid-October. Eight campgrounds will be converted from overnight camping to day-use only: Chain Lakes, Ironwood Lake campground, Lawrence Lake, Cottonwood Campground at Gleniffer Reservoir, Oldman Dam, Whitney Lakes and Woolford.
The province is open to proposals from groups to keep the sites open, Weleschuk said.