FOIP documents and Alberta Parks

Dear editor,

Although the UCP Government announced on March 3 the plan to change 184 parks, the work on that actually began in October 2019. 164 sites were identified for removal – a savings of $1.14 per Albertan. Land base wise that is only .3 per cent, but it equates to 37 per cent of Alberta parks and 4000 campsites – mostly in the rural areas.

I have obtained a copy of FOIP documents called “Right Sizing Alberta Parks.” The documents outline the presentation used for the Minister of Environment and Parks meeting with cabinet. Some of the information does provide legitimate questions but the process Minister Jason Nixon chose to take was not the wisest.

Firstly, after consultation had been done within government, the Minister’s advice to cabinet was that no public consultation should be done. It’s not even clear that MLAs were involved.

Secondly, an additional $12 million is targeted to be removed from the Alberta Parks budget in 2021.

Thirdly, the government made a platform commitment to “modernize environmental legislation for the 21st century.” How does that fit with rescinding the Coal Policy and removing restrictions for open pit coal mining in the Foothills where there are at least six foreign owned coal companies waiting to rip and tear up the mountains?

Impacts on water sources such as the Old Man River, Clearwater and North Saskatchewan Rivers can’t be underestimated. Two outcomes identified for Right Sizing Alberta Parks are 1. Removing unnecessary red tape on lands that no longer meet the intent for which they were established and 2. Supporting economic development and prosperity by enabling greater flexibility in land uses and decisions on deregulated and divested land.

Divested land includes “leasing or selling to External Body.” If anyone wants to learn more about “what you haven’t been told about Alberta’s plan to optimize parks,” contact the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society at infonab@cpaws.org.

Barb Olsen,

Ponoka

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