Although the UCP Government announced on March 3 the plan to change parks, it actually began in October 2019. One hundred and sixty-four 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 4,000 campsites.
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 the cabinet. Some of the information does provide legitimate questions but the process Minister Jason Nixon chose to take was not the wisest. First, after consultation had been done within government, the minister’s advice to cabinet was that no public consultation should be done. It is not even clear that MLAs were involved. Second, an additional $12 million is targeted to be removed from the 2021 Parks budget. Third, 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 Oldman River, Clearwater and North Saskatchewan rivers can’t be underestimated. The presentation also specifically states divested land includes “leasing and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.