Tuesday, 27 June 2017 08:00

Alberta Parks will see impressive upgrades in the years to come

Written by  Demi Knight
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A natural waterfall in the Castle Provincial Park. A natural waterfall in the Castle Provincial Park. Photo courtesy Alberta Government

The Province is officially entering its second year in a five-year plan to improve Alberta’s provincial parks system.

With new changes being made to several parks throughout the province, government officials hope investing in these lands will help Alberta in the years to come.
The Government has made these provincial parks a priority as almost nine million people visit these landmarks each year.
Two of the parks getting upgrades in the second year of this plan is Castle parks and Little Bow Provincial Park.
Peter Swain, director of the South Region of Alberta Parks, says the improvements being made are vital to Alberta’s goal of getting the province into a better and healthier state by spending more time outdoors.
“Our challenge is really getting people outside and it’s hard to do when we have this old and tired infrastructure for them to go to,” says Swain.
“It ultimately means they’re less likely to come out, but with these new grants and upgrades being made, Albertans will see immediate improvements in quality of experience and time spent outdoors. And that’s our big picture goal — to get the public to appreciate the nature and landscape of the province and become happier and healthier for it.”
Castle parks is one of the highest priorities for Alberta within the current improvement plans with a goal of more than $20 million being invested into the parks over the course of the next four years.
The improvements that are on the schedule for Castle Parks include several upgrades to day-use amenities such as parking space, trails, new garbage receptacles, concrete bathroom buildings and general site cleanup.
Another large improvement being made is the construction of better accessible fishing experiences at Bathing Lake at Castle Wildland Provincial Park which is currently already underway.
“I think these changes are going to be great. They’re really important as Alberta needs to have many of its campgrounds and infrastructures changed. There comes a point where things are too aged and need to be upgraded and we’ve hit that point.
So, it’s really important that we’ve received this funding to do the upgrades necessary,” says Swain.
Another $13 million is also being invested within Castle parks to better create access routes which boasts a new 11-kilometre section of Highway 774. Construction for this project is set to begin within the third year of the five-year plan in 2018.
Changes and improvements to camping areas, signage and picnic areas within Castle parks are also on the agenda within the upcoming years.
The Little Bow Provincial Park improvements are also a big task this year for the government with plans set to build upon last year’s improvements.
The water treatment plant upgrade is one of the continuing projects as well as the realignment of the boat launching pads.
Funding that has been supplied this year to the Little Bow Provincial Park includes a total of $800,000 which allows not only for the continuation of projects, but also for the development of a new concession building, a natural playground and the plantation of new trees around the area.
“There have been a lot of complaints at the Little Bow Campground with people saying the playground is too old. Parents’ kids are playing on the same equipment that they used to play on and it’s too aged,” explains Swain.
“It’s become long past the time that the playground should have been rejuvenated so we’re excited that we can finally complete this and provide new facilities.” 
The funding is part of an overall $239 million plan to revitalize and expand the provincial parks system.
“Albertans want more places to camp and hike with their families and better facilities and playgrounds when they get there. We’re investing so all Albertans can get out and enjoy our beautiful wild spaces,” says Minister  of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips of the improvements set to be made this year and throughout the five-year plan.
Improvements are also set to be made at other parks throughout the province such as Cold Lake Provincial Park, Lesser Slave Lake, Fish Lake, and Gregoire Lake Provincial Park.

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