Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going to a national park because the rules vary in each province and territory.
Officials said their approach to recreational cannabis when it becomes legal Wednesday will be consistent with how the parks and protected areas treat the possession and consumption of alcohol.
“All relevant provincial, territorial or municipal legislation and regulations will apply in all national parks, national historic sites, national marine conservation areas and historic waterways within a given province, territory or municipality,” said Marie-Helen Brisson, a national spokeswoman for Parks Canada.
Parks Canada treats individual campsites as a home away from home, she said.
“Consumption of cannabis will be permitted in campsites,” said Brisson. “However, consumption of cannabis will not permitted in common areas within campgrounds such as playgrounds, kitchen shelters, washrooms, trails, parking areas or roads.”
Playgrounds throughout the park are off-limits for cannabis use, but rules for other public areas will be based on the rules in each province.
Hikers in some provinces – including Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec – will be allowed to smoke on hiking trails and in the backcountry.
“You have been able to smoke in the backcountry and you will be able to continue to smoke in the backcountry,” said Greg Danchuk, manager of visitor experience for Banff National Park.
Six towns and villages within national parks each have their own cannabis rules.
Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park and Wasagaming in Riding Mountain National Park won’t allow smoking in public areas.
Danchuk said Banff National Park will follow municipal and provincial regulations.
“At Parks Canada locations in the Town of the Banff … it would be the same as within the Town of Banff so smoking or vaping would be prohibited there,” he said. “The rest of the park, outside of the Town of Banff, we’re taking an approach that’s consistent with the province of Alberta.”
Down the road in Lake Louise, visitors will be allowed to use cannabis in public.
Similarly, smoking is allowed in the village in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta and Field, B.C., in Yoho National Park.
Ski resorts within Banff National Park also have their own policies when it comes to the drug.
“As a family resort, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy place for both our guests and our team members,” said Kendra Scurfield of Sunshine Village. “With safety in mind, we have adapted a no-cannabis policy for the mountain.”
Lake Louise Ski Resort said they will only allow cannabis where they currently allow smoking.
“Smoking technically is not allowed on our mountain,” said Dan Markham, a spokesman for Lake Louise. “There are certain areas at the base where smoking is allowed, regardless of what you are smoking.
“From our perspective, it’s not going to get looser. It’s only going to get tighter as we go. The feedback from guests is that they don’t prefer smoking at all at the resort and it’s not congruent with a healthy outdoor lifestyle.”