Danielle Smith was sworn in as the 19th premier of Alberta on Tuesday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)

New Alberta cabinet could threaten environmental protections for parks, group says

An environmental group is warning a change to the United Conservative Party government cabinet could threaten protections for Alberta’s parks and wildlands.

In her first cabinet since becoming premier, Premier Danielle Smith divided responsibility for parks and so-called “protected areas” between two different ministries.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says the changes mean that almost 94 per cent of Alberta’s parks, recreation areas and wildland parks will be managed by the Ministry of Forestry, Parks and Tourism.

The department under new minister Todd Loewen now has responsibility for both the Provincial Parks Act and Willmore Wilderness Park Act.

Alberta Environment will manage protected areas — only five per cent of the lands it used to.

Society head Katie Morrison says in a release that the new structure could mean that parks intended to provide environmental protection will be managed for tourism or even industrial activities.

A spokesperson from Forestry, Parks and Tourism was not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2022.

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