Annual access fee for Kananaskis Country won't include McLean Creek area

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The Kananaskis Conservation pass — which will cost users $90 annually, or $15 per visit — won't include the McLean Creek area. Those who fight for conservation say that's a mistake. (CBC News - image credit)
The Kananaskis Conservation pass — which will cost users $90 annually, or $15 per visit — won't include the McLean Creek area. Those who fight for conservation say that's a mistake. (CBC News - image credit)

McLean Creek, a popular spot for random camping, ATVs and target practice, won't be included as part of the Alberta government's plan to introduce access fees for visitors to Kananaskis Country.

Last week, the Alberta government announced visitors to Kananaskis Country will need to pay $15 per day to access the area, or purchase an annual vehicle pass for $90.

But those who fight for conservation say exempting McLean Creek from the fee is a mistake.

"McLean Creek, you know, it's referred to as Mad Max, Wild West area," said Shaun Peter, president of Bragg Creek and Kananaskis Outdoor Recreation.

"There's constantly problems with enforcement, there's huge bush parties, lots of firearms offences, just real disregard for nature."

Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon said exempting the area from the fees applied to Kananaskis is due to the fact that users in that area already pay fees — $30 per person for random camping, along with an OHV fee coming this fall.

"We don't expect fee stacking at all," Nixon said. "Instead, what we're trying to do is create dedicated revenue to the recreation activity that's involved."

Nathaniel Schmidt, who is a board member with the Alberta Wilderness Association, said on a recent hike he saw tire ruts crossing the creek, along with garbage and makeshift toilets.

"This area is in need of restoration," he said. "It's in need of increased enforcement. It's in need of, essentially, everything the government was saying the user fee for Kananaskis was intended to address."

Hiker Nathaniel Schmidt said coming across items like a makeshift toilet on a recent hike reinforce the need for further enforcement in the McLean Creek area.
Hiker Nathaniel Schmidt said coming across items like a makeshift toilet on a recent hike reinforce the need for further enforcement in the McLean Creek area.(Submitted by Nathaniel Schmidt)

Kananaskis users already pay fees for camping and other uses, Peter said.

"So I don't think stacking fees is an excuse when we see that, you know, the low impact areas are all have stacked fees no matter what you're doing in recreation," he said.

The Kananaskis Conservation pass will fund parking redevelopments, campground refurbishments and more.

Nixon said that money won't fund McLean Creek area improvements.