Closing pr restricting services for Alberta provincial parks for financial reasons, not a popular decision.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) points to a survey conducted by Leger’s online panel/omnibus survey done March 12-16 which shows 7 out of 10 oppose either oppose or strongly oppose the measures taken by the Alberta provincial government.
The CPAWS said they are responding to the Alberta Environment and Parks announcement of the “full or partial closure of 20 parks and the removal of 164 parks from the system, resulting in the loss of 39 percent of Alberta’s parks and removal of the protections to conservation values and quality of recreation experience that are provided through a parks designation.”
(Please see Prairie Post story at: https://www.prairiepost.com/alberta/alberta-provincial-parks-undergoing-changes-or-are-closing/article_10520a3c-5d9a-11ea-b550-d782b137180c.html)
In an e-mail interview Katie Morrison, Conservation Director of the CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter says this is evidence Albertans are angry and disappointed with the decision.
“I am hoping that the government gets the message that Albertans do not support this announcement and reverse the delisting of the 164 parks,” explains Morrison. “It has been reported that these changes will amount to a savings of $5 million. The Alberta budget for 2020 is $56 billion in spending. $5 million is only 0.0089% of the total budget expenditures. Yet, parks contribute to local and regional economies through recreation and tourism. Studies by the Canadian Parks Council have found that for every dollar governments invest in parks in Canada, $6 is generated back into the GDP. This far outweighs the minor ‘savings’ that are being reported.
“We know that Albertans love and value their parks. The results of this survey are consistent with many other previous polls that show that Albertans support parks in the province. And this particular announcement affects Albertans across the province and across all demographics. These parks provide opportunities for Albertans from cities, rural and smaller centres to camp, hike and fish with their families close to home. Albertans don't want to lose these areas.”
The poll was conducted by the market and social research firm Leger from March 12 to 16, 2020, and included a sample size of 1002 randomly selected respondents from across the province. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Alberta population according to census parameters. The poll was conducted using Leger’s online panel, which includes over 450,000 Canadians. For comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1000 Albertans is accurate within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Morrison says she can only hope that this time next year, that the parks listed from the south zone will still be part of the parks system and publicly managed by the government. She points out if the announcement goes forward, closed sites and parks that revert to public land without a partner organization would no longer be serviced or maintained by Alberta Parks. This includes facilities such as fire pits, garbage disposal and outhouses. Elimination of these services at these parks sites would lead to greater impact on lands and waters and lead to diminished user safety and experience, including garbage, wildlife conflicts, unmanaged human waste, erosion and risk of wildfires. In fact just this past weekend Alberta Parks posted that sites with reduced services due to COVID19, many parks are seeing increased garbage and human waste.
“We are definitely concerned that this would be the fate of the parks that do not have active management. https://www.facebook.com/AlbertaParks/posts/3231817156852524,” she explains. “Those that do find partners are at risk of increased costs of access or changes to more industrial or commercial uses. Private operators are not accountable to Albertans or to maintaining conservation values and quality outdoor experience. Alberta’s parks should not be managed for profit. Commercial uses not currently permitted or promoted in parks could be developed in these areas once they become public land.”
CPAWS wants residents to write the Minister of Environment and Parks and locals MLA their displeasure at bit.ly/DefendABParks .
”Everyone can make a difference and force the government to rethink this decision. If these parks are removed from the system, they will lose the environmental protections and quality recreation infrastructure that are affordably provided to all Albertans,” explains Morrison.