Parks plan draws ire of conservationists

Conservationists fear that Alberta lawmakers can’t see the forest for the RVs when it comes to protecting more wilderness and public lands.

Conservationists fear that Alberta lawmakers can’t see the forest for the RVs when it comes to protecting more wilderness and public lands.

The province is to announce its long-awaited parks plan next week but if the new budget is any indication, the government isn’t paying much attention to public opinion surveys that suggest creating new parks and protected areas should be a top priority.

“The budget mentions accommodating larger trailers and more trails for all-terrain vehicles, yet gives no mention of Alberta’s top priority for parks — setting aside more land,” George Newton of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said Monday.

“We fear this top priority will be absent from Plan for Parks.”

Newton said at least two public opinion surveys, including a government-commissioned poll released last fall, suggest the majority of Albertans want more undisturbed public lands and water bodies designated as protected areas.

“Albertans feel the top priority for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation should be to set aside more land and leaving it in an undisturbed state,” says the Praxis group report to the government.

An Ipsos-Reid survey in 2007 suggested that while recreation and protecting the environment are both important, the latter should be the primary aim.

Officials with Alberta’s Tourism and Parks Departments were not immediately available for comment.

Budget documents for the department released last week show Premier Ed Stelmach’s government hopes to use the great outdoors to bolster tourism and the economy.

The department’s new business plan notes that a rise in unemployment around the world because of the economic downturn is expected to have an impact on tourism spending in Alberta, making close-to-home travel more appealing.

The plan also says Alberta’s growing and changing population wants to use parks in different ways.

“In addition to an increase in population, the kinds of park experiences that people seek are changing,” says the business plan.

“For example, Albertans want more campgrounds that accommodate larger trailers and designated trails for the rapidly increasing number of all-terrain vehicles.”

The business plan also says the province is developing an online program for campground reservations.

There is no mention in the business plan of setting aside more land for parks and protected areas.

Dianne Pachal of the Sierra Club of Canada said Albertans should pay close attention to the new parks policy to see if it really reflects how they feel about the outdoors.

Pachal noted that in New Zealand, which markets its natural beauty to attract tourists, 17 per cent of the land is protected. In Alberta, the figure is about four per cent.

Just Posted

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

Red Deer dancer attends national summer school

Dancers with others from across Canada and beyond

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month