A solution to a problem of your own making

A letter to the editor submitted to Cochrane Eagle, Cochrane Times and Cochrane Now on May 2, 2021. The letter outlines some concerns I have about the user fees for K Country.

On Tue April 26th our government announced a user fee on anyone using the Kananaskis area.  At first glance this solution seems pragmatic and logical, after all, the fee’s of $15 per trip or $90 per license plate is not extreme and everyone who has been out to K country knows that this area is turning into a garbage pit.

But here are my concerns:

  • This government never gave our parks a chance.  First they implemented devastating staffing and programing cuts to an already overstretched system and what little remained was further diminished by repurposing the staff away from parks for rural policing.
  • This government continues to pick ‘winners and losers’ by making off road use areas such as McLean Creek exempt from the user fee.
  • This government first tried to privatize our parks, continues to try to push through coal mining, has already forced cross country skiers to pay a user fee and now this.  It should be obvious that the government feels that enjoyment of our parks is not for everyone as was Peter Lougheed’s vision but only for those who can afford it.
  • This did not need to happen; funding was and is available.  This government continues to waste millions of dollars on the war room when it should be clear to everyone that this venture is a laughingstock to the world and leaves billions of dollars untouched in corporate taxes with nothing to show for it.
  • This government has a long history of ‘creative accounting’ and seemingly never-ending ability to make up numbers.  They now claim this user fee will generate 15 million dollars and all that money will be reinvested in K Country.  My math indicates that this fee will generate more than 15 million dollars and how can you trust this government to reinvest these funds when they continue to break their promises.
  • K Country is not the only park area that is overburdened, what will happen to the other areas, more user fees?
  • The cost of a national park pass is greater but at least you get access to many more parks with greater service.  Is $90 such a great price when you can’t book a campground?
  • At a time where it seems we have lost the vaccination race to Covid and greater lock downs seem inevitable, we need the outdoors more than ever for our mental health.

I’m a pragmatic problem solver so I’ll admit that this ‘solution’ will likely benefit K Country.  I also agree with Minister Jason Nixon when he said the government has a “responsibility” to ensure our parks are safe and maintained.  But the only reason this ‘solution’ was needed in the first place was to solve a problem that this government helped create.

As always I would have the same comments for any government in power making these decisions.


Dan Cunin