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$11 million in upgrades coming to Sask. provincial parks

A long, hot summer has some people packing up shop and heading for Canada’s provincial parks.

With millions of dollars in upgrades on the way, Saskatchewan is hoping to have more people setting up camp in the land of living skies.

For visitors at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, there’s no sight like the campsite.

READ MORE: Sask. parks launches ‘Camp-Easy’ campsites in 3 provincial parks

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“As a kid, that’s how we grew up, camping,” boater Darren Schaffer said as he prepared to hit the lake with his family.

Unfortunately, some parts of Saskatchewan’s provincial parks have deteriorated since then.

That’s why the provincial government is putting more than $11 million towards improvements.

$3.6 million has been slated for parks in the northwest. Fixes include two new service centres at Kimball and Greig Lakes, electrical upgrades at Murray Doell Campground and wastewater upgrades.

In the southwest, $1.5 million will cover sewage lagoon improvements, new signs and interpretive displays, and the big one: a new boat launch for Buffalo Pound.

“That boat launch has been in place for over 40 years,” Sask Provincial Parks Infrastructure and Capital Planning executive director Byron Davis said. “We’ll be replacing it with a modern, two-lane high-capacity boat launch with parking improvements.”

“It needs some work,” one boater told Global News. “On a long weekend, it’s chaotic trying to get your boat in with people waiting to get out.”

READ MORE: 35-year-old man drowns at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park

But there’s still the matter of hauling a heavy boat or trailer down winding highways and back roads to the park itself.

“The roads in both directions are brutal,” Schaffer added. “They’re narrow, they’re rough. For a provincial park, it’s not much of an attraction to have to pull your boat down those roads.”

While some of the cash will be used to improve roads in the parks themselves, a lot more will be needed to tackle some rough routes to get there. More than $21 million of highway construction is underway to improve park access.

“The majority of work in and out of the parks is complete,” Ministry of Highways spokesperson Steve Shaheen said. “We’ve had significant work done, including major work and preservation work.”

WATCH BELOW: Sask Parks demonstrates the essentials for hiking in Saskatchewan

Work on the Highway 4 bridge near Saskatchewan Landing is still in progress.

Saskatchewan park visits have been climbing steadily for the past decade, and with four million people expected to roll in this year, the province is hoping to give more reasons to return when the 2019  season rolls around.

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