One of the challenges with a direct impact on the visitor experience is the lack of basic infrastructure and services. We’re talking about things we usually take for granted like garbage bins, wayfinding signage, parking lots and toilets.
Finding the right balance with projects like these is not an easy task. Part of the appeal of our region is our lack of infrastructure and services, that feeling of going back in time as we leave cell service to go explore off the beaten path. At the same time, as more people discover the joy of outdoor adventures and the beauty of our region we see the negative impacts of outdoor recreation and tourism on the land.
The solutions are not as simple as building larger parking lots, adding signage to lesser-known locations or enforcing a ban on parking along the highway. We need to account for the limited capacity, both from an environmental and user experience perspective, that exists at many locations like Crescent Falls along with the limited resources available. That being said, we are seeing some successful projects moving forward.
We are seeing massive improvements at the moment with Alberta Environment & Parks building or expanding trailhead parking lots with toilets and garbage bins thanks to the reinvestment of the funds raised through the Public Lands Camping Pass.
The public dumpster program organized by the Nordegg Community Association has had a very positive impact on the cleanliness of the townsite. Hopefully it can be expanded through collaboration with Clearwater County to include recycling options and evolve into a system more suited for a tourism destination than the current waste transfer station as part of the next phases of development.
Tackling projects like these requires collaboration with Alberta Environment & Parks, Alberta Transportation, Clearwater County, the Nordegg Community Association, local businesses and other user groups. We can help by sharing the information we gain by using these areas on a regular basis as well as advocating on behalf of visitors and local tourism businesses.
We can also help address these challenges by promoting visitor dispersal (understanding that this can have unintended consequences), encouraging visitors to follow Leave No Trace principles as a way to reduce the impact on the environment and the infrastructure, and providing information to alleviate the lack of wayfinding signage.
A few resources for infrastructure development and recreation on public lands in the region:
- Trail Development Guidelines for Alberta’s Public Land
- Alberta’s guide to outdoor recreation on provincial Crown land
- Nordegg Development Plan
Projects & Updates
A few of updates and resources on the challenges we face as a growing destination.