The Alberta government is proposing eight new parks that would cover 4,000 square kilometres along the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The parks in the Bighorn region in west-central Alberta would offer landscape protection and recreational opportunities in the backcountry. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s proposed Bighorn Country parks proposal.

Councils from Rocky Mountain House, Clearwater County, Caroline and Burnstick Lake met with Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips, deputy minister Bev Yee and assistant deputy minister Dana Mackie on Monday to discuss how the government’s proposed plan would affect communities.

The local politicians asked about how the proposal would impact industry, emergency services, policing, wastewater and garbage disposal, and existing and future land uses within the proposal area.

The government’s proposal features eight new parks, covering 4,000 square kilometres along the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains.

READ MORE: Alberta planning eight new parks for land protection and recreation

Bighorn Country includes Clearwater County, most of Brazeau County and the current Bighorn Backcountry management area. It features mountains, foothills, forests, lakes, streams and the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River, which more than a million Albertans depend on for drinking water.

The area has been under consideration for protection since the 1980s and its core remains relatively free of energy, forestry and farming activity. The region is home to vulnerable species, from grizzly bears to bull trout to harlequin ducks.

Phillips said she was pleased to meet with municipal leaders to discuss the proposal.

“We know that growth in Alberta’s population has put pressure on the eastern slopes, with many more people seeking recreational experiences,” said Phillips.

“All the local municipal leaders in attendance asked thoughtful questions and made helpful suggestions to our government.”

Clearwater County Reeve Jim Duncan said since the province announce the Bighorn Country proposal, the county has been gathering information “in order to assess potential impacts on the municipality and its taxpayers.

“Our councils are educating themselves and urging local stakeholders and citizens to do so as well. Once the proposal is fully analyzed and local public information sessions take place, it is expected council will provide the province feedback in writing, by the end of the January consultation deadline,” said Duncan.

There will be a series of public information sessions to discuss the proposal with the public.

  • Dec. 12 at the Lou Soppit Community Centre in Rocky Mountain House from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Dec. 17 at the Lou Soppit Community Centre in Rocky Mountain House from 4 to 9 p.m.
  • Jan. 7 at the MacKenzie Conference Centre in Drayton Valley from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Jan. 9 at the German-Canadian Club of Red Deer in Red Deer from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Jan. 14 at the Sundre Community Centre in Sundre from 6 to 9 p.m.

For more information on Bighorn Country, visit talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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