Improvements to Kananaskis day-use areas a step in the right direction, but not all that was promised

April 6, 2022
Calgary | Mohkinstsis

As part of Budget 2022, the Government of Alberta announced on March 25 that it is investing more than $4 million to upgrade the Grassi Lakes and Goat Creek day-use areas in Kananaskis Country.  

The upgrades – which are designed to manage recreational use in the face of the record-breaking number of visitors exploring Kananaskis country – include measures to reduce parking congestion, pilot public transportation, improve public safety and refurbish the trails at increasingly popular destinations.  

As part of this budget allocation, the Ministry of Environment and Parks is expanding the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park by 610 acres in a move to strengthen the protection of the wildlife corridor in the area.  

Notably absent from the announcement, however, is any mention of the larger park expansions promised in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (see below map, for more detail). While CPAWS Southern Alberta applauds any new protected area, no matter how modest in size, it is disappointing the Ministry elected not to include the 73.6 km2 expansion of the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park designated in the SSRP in this initiative.  

An additional 1,071 km2 in southern Alberta was also identified for protection in the 2014 South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, which has not yet been legally protected.  

The Minister of Environment and Parks has stated these investments will “[ensure] the landscapes that Albertans love are protected and well-maintained for years to come” and CPAWS Southern Alberta agrees they are a much-needed step in the right direction. Nevertheless, the Ministry’s lack of action on greater protections delineated in the SSRP – including in the Bow Valley, which is home to many species at risk – remains a cause for concern.  

Mapping the Difference
Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park: March 2022 Expansion vs. Proposed SSRP Expansion

For more information, please contact:

Becky Best-Bertwistle
Conservation Programs Manager, CPAWS Southern Alberta