NDP leader Rachel Notley has promised to scrap the Kananaskis Country Conservation Pass if her party forms the next Alberta government.

She said upgrades promised by the current government would continue and future projects would be undertaken without the user fee.

With Banff-Kananaskis NDP candidate Sarah Elmeligi and MLA Marlin Schmidt at her side, she said the fee of $15 a day or $90 a year for two vehicles from a household is unfair to lower-income people and their families. 

"This pass has created yet another barrier for lower-income families to enjoy the outdoors. Right now, we know that times are tough and money is tight and at some points for many families, camping or day hikes will be the only vacations they can afford this summer," said Notley at yesterday's press conference, "so we don't need to be doing things to make it more expensive."

It follows a Parks Alberta announcement that they will begin enforcing the purchase of passes this fall. The licence plates of vehicles parked will be scanned and those who aren't in compliance will receive a warning or fine. The fine is $150 for personal vehicles and $350 for commercial vehicles. 

Up until now, an educational program has been conducted and no fines have been issued.

Notley says the UCP has transformed K-County into Pay-Country and the use of the revenue generated has not been transparent. She says the government declined to put legislation in place to guarantee the funds would be exclusively used for the park.

"The fact is, we don't know how the money's being used and whether it's leading to higher investment in the park or not," said Notley in a press conference.

While in power, she says the NDP invested $40 million into K-Country without the use of a user's fee.

Banff-Kananaskis Candidate Sarah Elmeligi praised Notley for the commitment to eliminating the financial barrier.

"When Albertans pay their taxes, they expect the government to use those taxes to invest in areas like Kananaskis, but now they're paying up front. That's why I was so pleased to hear Rachel say that even when we repeal the Kananaskis tax, will current projects will remain funded, and our government will continue to fund future projects."

In March, Alberta Environment and Parks officials stated the conservation pass had generated $12 million in revenue since June 2021 and provided a list of how the funds were being used. Some of them were for initiatives outside of the park boundaries in Canmore.