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Access and Environment

The ACC Calgary Section has a strong interest in maintaining and preserving our natural mountain environment. Our Access/Environment Committee promotes the viewpoint of the section to outside parties while bringing recent developments and upcoming issues to the attention of section members.

What Lies Ahead (Posted by KL November 11, 2014)

The A&E Chair position will be vacant at the next AGM.  For the incoming Chair, this position provides an opportunity to give something back to the club and the climbing community as a whole.  So how are things shaping up if you choose to take this on?

The North Saskatchewan Regional Plan is in the preliminary stages, and in the next two to three years we can expect additional public consultations.  This regional plan encompasses Banff National Park, which is an area of significance for the back-country recreation community.  There is sufficient time for the incoming A&E Chair to get up to speed prior to these consultations.  I feel that it is important for the ACC Calgary Section to develop a position (preferably in conjunction with ACC National and other affected ACC sections) and state it to the Government of Alberta, similar to what has been done on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.  I’ve met with the Senior Consultation Manager with the Land Use Secretariat on several occasions, and at the very least, they are now aware of the concerns of a loosely organized and often quiet soft-tread community.

Despite ongoing conversations in the past two years with Friends of Kananaskis (FoK), and Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation (ATPR), there have been no organized maintenance days for trail-work, crag area clean-ups, etc.  Ideally, the chair or a member of the A&E Committee will have availability on weekdays to do trail walk-throughs with FoK and ATPR.

There have been ongoing discussions between CASA, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), and TransAlta regarding North Ghost access.  Other than that, there are not many identified climbing access trails requiring maintenance.  However, I believe it is important that the ACC Calgary Section continue to organize maintenance days in conjunction with FoK, CASA, ESRD and ATPR.   This creates a sense of community amongst ACC Calgary Section members, and furthers the relationship with the Government of Alberta, which may pay dividends in the future.

Duties of the A&E Chair are fully listed in: http://www.acccalgary.ca/other/organization-of-the-section.html.

Public Consultation on the Detailed Environmental Impact Analysis for the Proposed Redevelopment of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola Upper Terminal Posted by KL: August 17, 2014

Brewster Travel Inc. is proposing to redevelop the upper terminal of the Banff Gondola. To address structural deficiencies and improve the guest experience, Brewster plans to renovate the washrooms, restaurants, public spaces and building exterior.

As with all projects of this magnitude, Brewster is required to complete and get public input on a detailed Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) for the proposed redevelopment. Parks Canada invites you to participate in their public consultation process. Copies of the detailed Environmental Impact Analysis can be found on the Brewster website (www.banffgondola.com) or in hard copy at the Brewster Gondola and the Parks Canada Administration Building. You can send your comments on the detailed Environmental Impact Analysis to Parks Canada by:

E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Integrated Land Use, Policy and Planning
Parks Canada
101 Mountain Ave, PO Box 900, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1K2.

ESRD Backcountry Trails Flood Rehabilitation Program (BRFRP) Posted by KL: June 23, 2014

I attended the ESRD Info Session for their 3-year program to address trails affected by the 2013 flood.  There is $10MM budgeted for this program, and they are currently looking to prioritize which trails under ESRD jurisdiction will be modified/fixed.  Note that there is a separate program to address trails under the jurisdiction of Alberta Tourism, Parks & Rec (ATPR), so for the ACC Calgary membership, areas of concern will likely be the Ghost and Castle.  Additional information may be found at: http://kananaskisid.ca/information-session-trails/

If there are any trails under ESRD jurisdiction that you feel should be addressed, please send detailed information including photos to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

North Saskatchewan Regional Plan (NSRP) Draft – What Can I Do? Posted by KL: May 28, 2014, Latest Revision August 17, 2014

Now that final submissions have been accepted for the SSRP, Phase One of the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan (NSRP) is now underway. This area includes Banff National Park, therefore will be of interest to the back-country community. Public consultations have taken place across the province. Additional information can be found at www.landuse.alberta.ca

In comparison to the SSRP Draft, the Profile document of the NSRP does include a one-line mention of rock climbing and ice climbing as recreational opportunities (p. 51).  I spoke with the Land Use Secretariat at the NSRP Open House in Calgary, and he acknowledged that they are becoming more aware of the generally silent population of soft-tread back country community.  It should also be noted that the one-line mention of rock & ice climbing is preceded by a paragraph describing the significant economic contribution of the ATV and snowmobile recreationalists.

South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) – What Can I Do? Posted by KL: Nov. 16, 2013, Latest Revision Feb. 9, 2014 
To preface, the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan is part of the land use framework being developed by the provincial government.  This plan is intended to identify long term strategic directions for the region and address the economic, environmental and social concerns.

I attended the Canmore SSRP Open House (November 7th) and the Calgary SSRP Stakeholder Meeting (November 13th), and have been in conversations with Wayne Campbell (ACC National VP A&E), David Roe (your Section Chair), and Al Black (CASA President).  One common theme I have seen at these meetings (and similarly at the Water for Life forum in March 20th, 2013) is that various stakeholder groups are organized, effective, and have multiple representatives at these meetings.  Stakeholder groups ranging from industry players to conservation organizations to off-highway vehicle groups, have requested private meetings with the GoA and made known their positions with respect to the SSRP.  Motorized outdoor recreation groups are specifically mentioned in the draft document in terms of the significant revenues they bring to the provincial economy.  I feel that the softer-tread backcountry recreationist community should also be heard, particularly if other outdoor recreation groups are lobbying.

With that in mind this is what has happened to date, and this is what you can do:

Private Meeting with CASA and GoA Nov. 28th,2013 in Cochrane

CASA requested a meeting with the Government of Alberta (GoA).  The ACC has representatives from the following sections: Calgary, RMS, Southern Alberta, Central Alberta, Edmonton.

CASA’s paraphrased message to convey to GoA is as follows:

-          The SSRP needs develop a recreational master plan for each of the regions in the SSRP to implement and manage recreational activities in a sustainable way.

-          It is important for the SSRP to not to hand off the implementation of outdoor recreation to Alberta Tourism, Parks, and Recreation, and the parks. A lot of outdoor recreation happens on lands managed by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, and they need the resources to plan, implement, and manage recreational activities. This is especially critical, because the growth in Calgary and inevitable growth and demand for outdoor recreation will most likely be happening on AERSD lands, since parks are operating at near capacity (e.g., camping sites!)

-          Most of the concerns about user group conflicts and the environmental impact of recreation are the result of a lack of planning, especially on AESRD lands. Current planning by AESRD is based on access management using existing disturbances (e.g. old seismic lines, old logging roads). The problem with this strategy is the areas and infrastructure were not originally designed for their current use, the numbers of users, or to minimize or mitigate environmental impact. There are better solutions! The SSRP needs develop a recreational master plan for each of the regions in the SSRP to implement and manage recreational activities in a sustainable way.

-          Stakeholders in the area, be it recreational groups or conservation/environmental groups, need a standing mechanism for being involved in the planning and the on-going implementation of recreational plans of the Government of Alberta at a regional level. The Ghost Stewardship Management Group is good example of this type of consultation, but it needs some funding and legal status -- be it a planning board or a consultation board.

2. Complete the SSRP Workbook Deadline has now been extended to Feb. 28th, 2014.

If you have attended any of the public open houses, thank you for your time.  If you have not had the opportunity, you can still voice your opinion by completing the SSRP Workbook.  It is available on-line can be completed in about 30 minutes.  (Join CASA on Facebook to receive updated info.  If you do not use Facebook, keep an eye on the ACC Calgary Section Breeze and here.)

You may provide your feedback through our online workbook, available at http://www.landuse.alberta.ca
From Al Black, CASA President: "The SSRP suggested comments page(s) are up on the website. This is an instance where the number of people who do respond matter, so pass it along and encourage as many as you can to participate and comment."  http://climbersaccess.ab.ca/south-saskatchewan-regional-plan

3.  ACC Calgary Section Letter to the Government of Alberta

Letter issued to GoA:

Consultation with the ACC Calgary membership occurred via the Breeze and at the Section 2013 AGM, with any feedback accepted prior to December 13, 2013.  Below is what was conveyed to the membership prior to the release of the final version of the letter: 

Ideally, a unified message from all the ACC Sections within the boundaries of the SSRP can be presented, in a written letter.  Below is the intended message that will be conveyed and you are invited to provide feedback on this prior to the deadline.  Note that the final messaging may change based on conversations with other section A&E representatives and CASA, but the intent is to develop a message that reflects the ACC Calgary position.

- The ACC Calgary Section is advocating that Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources develop and implement a Master Recreational Plan for each of the sub-regions, just as it has integrated resource plans for each of the sub-regions. This will ensure planning and management of activities on Crown lands in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way. It should be implemented with public input at a regional level.

- While the SSRP talks about enhancing the quality of life of residents through increased opportunities for recreation, and that desired social and community outcomes include healthy Albertans, measurement indicators (e.g. Parks per Capita, Recreation Infrastructure) will not adequately reflect that these outcomes are achieved.  For example, recreation infrastructure may cater towards motorized user groups, such as RVs and ATVs.   More refined indicators are required that account for the diversity of recreationists.

- Further to this, the SSRP mentions an increase in Off-Highway Vehicle recreational activity, and dedicates a paragraph commenting on the tourism revenue generated by snowmobile and ATVers. Recognition of more sustainable, soft-tread user groups should also be inherent in this plan.

> If you are providing feedback, please state your first and last name so I can confirm you are a member in good standing with the ACC Calgary Section.  Emails should be directed to:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You may also post to the Forum under the 'South Saskatchewan Regional Plan' thread if you wish your comments to be publicly visible.

Additional Notes:
- A variety of groups have expressed concerns with various aspects of the SSRP, that may not have been addressed by the ACC.  For additional viewpoints, you may wish to visit the websites of Y2Y, CPAWS and the AWA.  Visit the ACC Calgary Forum to view discussion threads.

New CASA Website - Photos Wanted Posted by KL: Jan. 15, 2014
CASA is unveiling their new website, and needs your photos!
"We're trying to get a general collection -- different kinds of climbing -- different places. Of course, we're cheap so we're not going to pay for them. And we're not going to even try to enforce copyright or note attribution on the pics. But you will get a big thanks on the CASA donations page!"
Send them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

South Saskatchewan Regional Plan Phase 3 October 21, 2013
The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) will set the vision of the Southern Alberta region that includes the Ghost, Castle, and Kananaskis.  Regional planning is part of Alberta's Land Use Framework (LUF), and involves monitoring and managing natural resources.  Public consultations in late 2012 were held to assist in developing the draft copy of the SSRP.  Phase 3 public consultations on the draft version of the SSRP are underway.

CASA will be attending as a stakeholder, but you can also make yourself heard by attending one of the open houses held at various locations between November 5 and 28 (4:30 pm - 7:30 pm), and/or by completing and submitting an online workbook by January 15, 2014.

The Calgary open house will be 4:30 - 7:30, November 13 at the Glenmore Inn (2720 Glenmore Trail SE).  If you cannot make it there are other sessions in Cochrane, Airdrie, Canmore, Okotoks, and other towns.

Visit https://landuse.alberta.ca/Newsroom/Pages/PublicConsultations.aspx for more information.

CASA Update at Sept 17 Section Meeting September 28, 2013
Al Black, President of CASA, gave a brief spiel of where things are at post-flood.  CASA has been in talks with AESRD and TransAlta to see if they can piggy-back on heavy equipment that has been mobilized in the Ghost.  Accessing the North Ghost may be very difficult this upcoming winter, as there is currently no TFA in place.  [see list of acronyms below]

Discussions with Alberta Parks show promise, and hopefully a process can be implemented whereby various groups, including the ACC Calgary Section, can take responsibility and ownership of specific crags (i.e. Heart) for clean-up activities and trail maintenance.

Climbing Access Forum Posts June 24, 2013

Note that access to certain climbing areas may have changed due to flooding. You can share photos and comments on access to areas by posting at: http://www.acccalgary.ca/forum/3-trip-reports.html. Photos of the Ghost area have already been posted.

The time will come in the next while when the climbing community will need you to assist in rebuilding trails. For now take care of yourselves, your loved ones and your community. Stay safe.

Rosetta Stone Acronyms Level I Updated Sept 28, 2013

ADM Acting Deputy Minister
AESRD Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
CASA Climbers' Access Society of Alberta
DAO Designated Administrative Organization
FLUZ Forest Land Use Zone
GAMP Ghost Waiparous Access Management Plan
GSMG Ghost Stewardship Monitoring Group
LOC License of Occupation
SLS Spray Lake Sawmills
SSRP South Saskatchewan Regional Plan
TFA Temporary Field Authorization

Say this in a bar to impress your friends:  Access to climbing areas in the Ghost is managed under the GAMP.   The GSMG is composed of various stakeholders, including CASA,  who jointly recommend how to implement the objectives set out by GAMP to AESRD.  Enviros has a LOC with TransAlta for the road into the Ghost, which means they share in the maintenance costs of that road.

Ghost Stewardship Monitoring Group holds Open House

The Ghost Stewardship Monitoring Group (“GSMG”) will be holding an open house on Wednesday, February 20th, at 7:00 p.m. at Beaupre Hall. Beaupre Hall is located just off Highway 40, north of the Highway 1A/Highway 40 intersection approximately fifteen kilometres west of Cochrane.

The open house will give the public a chance to meet and converse with members of the GSMG, and view a number of related displays from organizations with an interest in the Ghost Waiparous region.

The GSMG, formed upon completion of the Ghost Waiparous Access Management Plan (“Plan”) in 2006, is a group of committed stakeholders that was brought together by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (“AESRD”) to work with the department in implementing the Plan. The members of the GSMG, representing a wide range of stakeholders, are working to ensure reasonable area access by all users while using best efforts to ensure that the character of the region is maintained. The GSMG provides recommendations to AESRD on a wide range of topics, including a sustainable trail network, camping opportunities, infrastructure placement, enforcement requirements, and environmental/land/watershed protection.

A Few Words from the Chair
February 22, 2013

Having recently taken on the role of ACC Calgary Section Access & Environment Chair, I look forward to representing the organization and communicating on relevant issues with you.  I am eager to pursue access opportunities on your behalf, such as the installation of a chairlift on the Robertson Glacier to enable better backcountry ski access and adding a via ferrata on the West End of Mount Yamnuska for safer climbing access to polished routes.

While these propositions are purely tongue in cheek, there are some serious looming issues, such as maintaining rock and ice climbing access to the Ghost area, which may require volunteer grunt work on short notice.  With that in mind I would like to have a list of members who would be interested in getting involved in various capacities, ranging from trail and belay platform maintenance to participating in the annual stream survey in the Ghost (usually in July).  If you wish to be on this list, please send your contact information along with any specific areas of interest to ‘ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ’.

Thank you for your time.

Ken Lee

Recent Developments Bill 29 

Note: Why is the "out-dated" info below still shown?  Well, historically the government has attempted to push this bill through in various reincarnations.  I am leaving this thread here as a reminder of what has happened in the past, and of what may happen again in the future.  [January 15, 2014 KL]

The Alberta government is proposing major changes in the way our parkland is managed. The proposed Bill 29 was halted in November after public outcry with the promise of listening to what Albertans have to say. The Bill is a major concern because it has shifted the rules governing parks ; from legislation where the  ecosystem is protected to regulation where the government can make decisions without public consultation. Please take the time to inform yourself and consider  writing a letter. If you do decide to write - send it to as many in the political circle as you can -  your MLA, Minister Ady and Premier Ed Stelmach.

1) January 12th 2011 - Save the Parks Workshop Review

About 30 people braved the cold weather last night to attend a workshop sponsored by the Sierra club and CPAWS to discuss how to save Alberta's Parks, given the high likelihood that Minister Ady's Bill 29 will be resurrected in the next legislative session. MLA Harry Chase attended, and provided some very useful background insights into the workings of the Alberta legislature. The meeting was led by Dianne of the Sierra Club who provided us with a useful summary of the complications of Alberta legislation and in particular the complicated parks regulations that exist today. The emphasis was on the problems that are obvious with the proposed emphasis in Bill 29 on recreation instead of conservation. Bill 29 would reduce the variety of types of parks in Alberta to just two types. No matter what the size of the park and many of them are very small in size, there would be an attempt to install a variety of facilities to accommodate both recreational users as well as those who just want to leave it as it was intended to be. Another major problem in the proposed Bill is that decisions regarding new developments, etc with respect to any park would be left up to the discretion of the minister, via regulations. These are non-debatable, behind-the-scenes decisions, subject to the whims and influences of the day of any appointed minister. Of course, this could lead to monstrous changes in any Alberta Park; even our precious K-Country would be left unprotected.

Although many opinions were heard as to how to proceed, Dianne emphasized the importance of writing letters to the media, our political representatives and leaders, and our fellow outdoors enthusiasts. The rep from MEC thought that a YouTube video clip would be extremely useful, but no one stepped forward to produce such a video. This may still be in the works however, as more meetings are planned in the near future. In short, we can be sure that Bill 29 will again be tabled in the legislature in the spring session perhaps with some cosmetic changes, but essentially the same document that we were fighting in the fall session. Personally, I think we need to influence Premier Stelmach with our letters of dismay and righteous indignation for what he and his cabinet are proposing for our wilderness areas. The Sierra Club has produced a list of ridings that are vulnerable in the next election to change in party representation. If we get a copy of this listing, I will distribute it to you, and if you know individuals in those ridings who may be influential, then maybe we can get them to communicate their concerns to the riding incumbent in order to promote severe changes to Bill 29 or to get it to be dropped altogether. Perhaps on an encouraging note, Mr Chase suggested that there may be modest cabinet shuffle in the near future in which Minister Ady might be shuffled off to another portfolio. If she is the main proponent of Bill 29, then the bill may die because of her departure. However, many think that the Premier has encouraged her to promote this bill, and so we do need to try to influence the premier's office.

2) November 25, 2010 - Bulletin from the government of Alberta
Minister to further engage Albertans and park users on proposed parks legislation
Debate on Bill 29 suspended

Edmonton... The government will continue to work with Albertans on proposed legislation to guide the management of the Alberta parks system before further debate on Bill 29, the Alberta Parks Act.

“What I have heard throughout debate on Bill 29 is that people are passionate about parks and I respect that passion,” said Cindy Ady, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “We will continue our important work to ensure that parks protect our province’s unique natural heritage while also providing Albertans with access to ample outdoor recreation opportunities.”


The intent of Bill 29 was to help to make it easier for Albertans to understand what kinds of activities are allowed in parks. Aligned with Alberta’s Plan for Parks and Land-use Framework, Bill 29 proposed to simplify the parks classification system into two categories, provincial parks and heritage rangelands. Subsequent zoning regulations in provincial parks would have specified how visitors use various areas of each park, whether for conservation, recreation or a combination of both.

“I believe we all want the same thing, an Alberta parks system that protects the ecological integrity of our landscapes and provides spaces for our families to enjoy the outdoors,” added Ady. “I look forward to continuing work with Albertans and respected conservation experts to achieve this, and bring back parks legislation next year.”

Bill 29 proposed to consolidate and modernize three pieces of parks legislation, the Provincial Parks Act, the Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves, Natural Areas, and Heritage Rangelands Act, and the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland Trails Act into one simplified Act. Bill 29 also introduced a requirement for mandatory advance public notice of changes to provincial parks and heritage rangelands, and allowed for the creation of a Parks Advisory Council and a Parks Conservation Foundation.

More information on Alberta’s parks system is available at www.albertaparks.ca.

Nov 14 2010 - Provincial Parks Under Threat - Alberta Wilderness Associations's Call for Action


Around 4.5 percent of Alberta is protected by the provincial government. These include some of the most precious and environmentally sensitive lands in the province.
‘Parks’ can mean anything from the 1 million-acre Willmore Wilderness down to small campsites and parking lots protected as Provincial Recreation Areas. For this reason, Alberta’s parks system is complex, and necessarily so, with eight different parks designations. Again and again, surveys have found that Albertans love our parks.

The Issue

New legislation - Bill 29, the draft Alberta Parks Act - proposes to throw out all of the existing legislation (with the exception of the Willmore Wilderness Act). In future, all parks and protected areas will be classified as either Heritage Rangelands (for grazing) or Provincial Parks (for a ‘balance’ of conservation and recreation). The huge 445 sq.km White Goat Wildernes Area would have the same level of protections as the parking lot and trails at Elbow Falls. Within the Provincial Park designation, it is suggested that there may be four ‘zones’. These zones may allow for differing focus on conservation or recreation, though this is not specified in the legislation.

The proposed legislation also makes it easier for the government to changes park designations in future. Currently this can only be done with changes in legislation; in future, Cabinet will makes changes on its own. Public comment may be required, but not public consultation.
AWA believes that this proposed legislation is so bad, and so fundamentally flawed that it must not go ahead as it currently stands. The vagueness of the legislation is staggering.
AWA has written more detailed comments about the substantial flaws in the proposed legislation. Click here to see AWA’s comments (use http://albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlands/land-conservation/protected-areas/archive/2010-11-10-alberta-parks-under-threat)


Updated April 14, 2013

Consider communicating your concerns to the following people.

The Hon. Alison Redford
Premier of Alberta
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 – 97th Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Honourable Dr. Richard Starke 
Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation
#229 Legislature Building
10800‐97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To find contact information for your MLA: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_home

Opposition parties:

Alberta Liberal Party leader
Dr. Raj Sherman
201 Legislature Annex
9718 - 107 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1E4
Phone: 780 427-2292
Fax: 780 427-3697
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Alberta NDP Party leader
Brian Mason
#501 Legislature Annex, 9718 107 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1E4
Phone: (780) 415-0944
Fax: (780) 415-0701
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Wild Rose Alliance Party leader
Danielle Smith
501 Legislature Annex
9718 107 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1E4
Phone: (780) 643-9110
Fax: (780) 638-3506
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

CASA Update

Climbers' Access Society of Alberta (CASA) works on our behalf to secure access to the Ghost Climbing area. They partner with the Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) officials to create sustainable access and are officially the stewards for the track to the Ghost climbing areas.With that stewardship comes maintenance responsibilities and the Calgary section is often called upon to help out. So watch the events calendar for ghostly volunteer opportunities

For information on the designated trail and staging areas, see this link to the SRD website:


Other  Links Related to Access


And for a few tips on how to reduce your impact in our alpine environments