Amendments to Kneehill County’s master rates bylaw to implement a paid parking pilot at Horseshoe Canyon could attract approximately $40,000 in revenue.
Public lands coordinator Shelby Sherwick presented the proposal during the Tuesday, February 9 regular Kneehill County council meeting.
“The Town of Drumheller completed a pilot project for paid parking in 2019 and continued initiative in 2020 at their Hoodoos tourism site,” Sherwick said during the meeting. “Based on reports regarding the Town of Drumheller’s pilot project, there may be potential to see similar revenues at Horseshoe Canyon with the introduction of a similar model.”
The program at the Hoodoos raised more than $27,000 in 2019; despite reduced tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about $19,000 was raised in 2020.
Sherwick noted revenue for Horseshoe Canyon is estimated to be comparable to the Hoodoos based on average traffic counts between May and September.
It was recommended to have two seasonal employees on-site to provide visitors with information on Horseshoe Canyon and other tourist attractions, both in Kneehill County and the surrounding areas. Employees would also help mitigate safety and security concerns from visitors attempting to enter through “informal access points” or parking on adjacent properties and along Highway 9 to avoid the proposed fee.
Annual operating costs are estimated at $40,000 for signage and other materials, as well as employee wages. Based on the $2 fee per vehicle, revenue is estimated at $40,000 annually.
“We’ve missed out for the last two years,” Councillor Debbie Penner said during the meeting. “I would like to see this go ahead, especially as a pilot program.”
The motion to amend the master rates bylaw to include the $2 paid parking fee was carried unanimously, and a second motion to include $40,000 in both the 2021 operational expense and revenue budget was also unanimously carried.
Another topic of discussion was increasing fees for campgrounds in the county.
Fees were last updated in 2018 and the recommendation to increase charges would keep prices in line with other, similarly serviced sites in the region. Campsites must be booked through an online booking system, and a booking fee--between $2 and $5, depending on the total booking charge--is charged to each guest.
Council made amendments to the proposed adjustments before carrying the motion to increase the fees as amended. Serviced sites will cost $35 per night, $25 for unserviced and tenting sites at Keiver’s Lake, and $20 for tenting and unserviced sites at other campgrounds.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail