By Nick Kuhl on May 18, 2019.
Southern Alberta Newspapers – Medicine Hat
For the first time in years, Cypress Hills Interprovincial park will
not see a liquor ban imposed this weekend, which stands as the
unofficial kickoff to the camping season.
Nor will the province follow Saskatchewan’s lead by prohibiting
cannabis use in provincial parks during the May long weekend.
Typically, smoking pot is allowed with some conditions in parks on
both sides of the provincial boundary.
This weekend though the two sides have different standards after
Saskatchewan added marijuana to its blanket province-wide alcohol ban,
but Alberta lifted booze ban in all but eight locations leading up to
Late Thursday, the province announced those would be lifted as well as
the incoming government considered such bans a “war on fun” enacted
by the “nanny state.”
Local park administrators on the Alberta side are predicting a
peaceful, enjoyable weekend, partly because of a wet forecast and
generally well-behaved visitors.
“I would hope that everyone who comes out will generally respect
those in the next campsite over,” said Mike Radcliffe, head of
visitor experience in Elkwater.
“If there are problems we deal with them, but campers are generally
respectful of each other.”
The forecast calls for rain to continue through today and highs only
in the mid-teens through the rest of the weekend.
Since 2004, Alberta Parks has barred liquor to deter noise and unruly
behaviour during the springtime holiday.
This year’s liquor ban in eight parks across the province temporarily
won’t allow beer, wine or spirits, though none in the southeast
As for cannabis, Alberta provincial parks employ the blanket standard
set down last summer. Similar to tobacco use, cannabis can be used in
public, but areas around buildings and playgrounds are restricted.
Typically, cannabis can be smoked in a registered campsite, but not
near washrooms, beaches, playgrounds or day-use facilities.
Conservation officers have the ability to crack down on inappropriate
behaviour to preserve safety and enjoyment of visitors, and the policy
is being monitored, according to the Alberta Parks website.
Cannabis cannot be smoked in a motor vehicle at any time, though a
camper or recreational vehicles that are stationary and set up are
considered temporary residences.
The Saskatchewan bans went into effect Thursday and expire Monday.
That is “due to concerns or disturbances and vandalism from
intoxication in parks during the May long weekend,” a statement from
that government ministry states.
The ban affects all campsites and picnic areas, but not cabins, within
Saskatchewan’s provincial parks and recreation sites.
Parks Canada’s website states that on trails and in the back country,
visitors should be aware of fire risks.
Despite a generally dry spring, the fire risk in the western block of
the park is low.
Radcliffe expects moisture to green up the area well, but lead to some
no-shows for reserved sites. He said some first-come, first-served
spaces were open Thursday afternoon, and overflow is also available.
Administrators with the municipally operated Gas City Campground in
Medicine Hat state the facility is near capacity after a few last
While there is no fire restriction at the Interprovincial Park, a fire
restriction order posted in March for Cypress County is still in
effect. That bans open fires, fireworks and cancels fire permits.
Fire advisories have been in place in the counties of Forty Mile and
Newell since April