Saskatoon Island Provincial Park will receive $300,000 in provincial funding for an upgrade, including improvements to the Little Lake trail and observation deck.
The Alberta government is bankrolling the project as part of its new $43 million program to improve provincial parks.
Jennifer Dagsvik, Alberta Environment communications assistant director, said the observation deck will benefit visitors who come by Little Lake.
“Little Lake is a small lake and wetland with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, especially waterfowl,” she said.
“The small observation deck is being replaced to improve public safety, accessibility and to accommodate school programming.”
Aside from the observation deck, the existing trail leading to Little Lake will be upgraded to make it wheelchair accessible, she said.
Additionally, a 30-year-old shower building will be replaced due to structural issues and the government is planning to upgrade the park’s electrical system, Dagsvik said.
She said more information about local projects will be unveiled when the contracts are finalized and work can begin.
The Alberta government pledged $43 million to provincial parks last week, with $2.4 million going to capital projects in northwest Alberta.
According to the province, the program will create 290 jobs across the province and recognizes parks are critical to the economy.
The program will also see $7.2 million go to northeast Alberta parks, $4.5 million to central Alberta parks, $15.2 million to Kananaskis parks and $7.2 million to southern Alberta parks.
Another $6.2 million will go to enhancing other public lands throughout the province.
Still, Dagsvik said the provincial government intends to transfer 17 parks and provincial recreation areas (PRAs) across Alberta into the public lands system.
Public lands are Crown lands and not parks, with parks designated to preserve Alberta’s natural heritage.
Dagsvik said the 17 facilities “are remote or underused,” and visitors would still be able to access them or engage in recreation there if they become public lands.
The 17 facilities include several in northwest Alberta.
These are Sulphur Lake PRA, Twin Lakes PRA, Notikewin Provincial Park, Running Lake PRA, Sheep Creek PRA, Smoky River South PRA and Greene Valley Provincial Park.
Although the UCP planned to close the parks this season, the government delayed the closure “to give Albertans more opportunities to camp and connect with nature” during the pandemic.
According to CBC News, the park closures may save the government $5 million.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News