Red Deer County resident Dave Winnicky is concerned Alberta government’s proposed plan for Bighorn Country is unclear and grey. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

WATCH: Central Albertans share concerns over Bighorn at info session in Red Deer

Many central Albertans left the comfort of their home in freezing temperatures on Super Bowl Sunday to learn about the provincial government’s plans for Bighorn Country.

Some even lined up outside for the doors to open at Westerner Park.

Many Albertans oppose the government’s $40-million provincial park proposal for the area that covers 4,000 square kilometres along the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains.

READ ALSO

Anti-Bighorn Country rally held in Red Deer

Red Deer County resident Dave Winnicky, who trail rides and camps in the Bighorn backcountry, said the proposal is an ambiguous cash grab for the government.

“Having them designate this all as parks now will in the future take access away from our grandchildren, and initiate costs going to these parks. And who in Alberta will be able to afford to go except for tourists?” he said at Sunday’s open house.

Winnicky noted the government wants to spend a chunk of money during a recession – something he does not support.

Instead, the central Albertan proposes fixing up the campgrounds and increasing enforcement in the region.

Dave Johanson, another Red Deer County resident, echoed the need for enforcement to preserve the scenic beauty and diversity of the area.

“We have two per cent of people making problems out there, and the other 98 per cent of us are suffering for this,” Johanson said, adding some people “rip up the country, trash the area and the wetlands.”

He said designating the area as a park means the government will be able to institute rules, regulations and permits at any time.

“Lot of the questions are ‘what’s going to happen?’ and a lot of the answers are, ‘this is going to be a plan over five years,’” Johanson said of the lack of clarity.

Rick Blackwood, assistant deputy minister of Environment and Parks’ strategy division, said people are looking for clarity.

“They’ve looked at the proposal and looked at the maps, and they’re not clear on what a number of different elements in the plan mean, so we’ve had a good opportunity to provide clarity on those points,” he said.

Central Albertans provided general overall opinions on the region, as well as specific comments on individual sites “that they have a lot of history with,” he said.

The feedback will help shape the proposal going forward, Blackwood said.

Peter Reed, the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association’s vice-president, said he is concerned the process is being rushed through without proper consultation.

“They’re closing the trails, they’re limiting the amount of use on trails. The whole thing is jumping ahead of itself,” said Reed, noting the closures of trails for ATVs around Abraham Lake.

About 195,000 people are members of the club across the province, he noted.

“They’re telling us that everything (trails) is going to remain open, but we have no proof of that,” he said, adding the process reminds him of restrictions enforced on ATV users in Castle area parks and Livingstone-Porcupine Hills in southern Alberta.

“We’re expecting to be basically kicked off the land.”

The input session goes until Feb. 15, followed by targeted stakeholder sessions.

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.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Rick Blackwood, assistant deputy minister of Environment and Parks, Strategy Division, said people are looking for clarity over government’s Bighorn Country proposal and he was happy to give them that at the public information session in Red Deer Sunday. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Peter Reed Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association vice-president, said he is concerned about shut-down of trails for off-highway vehicles in the Bighorn. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Just Posted

Oilsands firms considering diluent recovery units to boost crude-by-rail volumes

CALGARY — Ongoing pipeline project delays and growth in crude-by-rail capacity from… Continue reading

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets new job among flurry of Alberta government appointments

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets job among flurry of appointments EDMONTON — Len Rhodes,… Continue reading

State of mind to be key issue in Alek Minassian trial, judge says

TORONTO — The trial of a man accused of killing ten people… Continue reading

Home explosion, fire taking a toll on London, Ont., neighbourhood: fire official

LONDON, Ont. — A gas explosion and a large fire that triggered… Continue reading

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

OTTAWA — First Nations women will finally be treated the same as… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Oilsands firms considering diluent recovery units to boost crude-by-rail volumes

CALGARY — Ongoing pipeline project delays and growth in crude-by-rail capacity from… Continue reading

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets new job among flurry of Alberta government appointments

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets job among flurry of appointments EDMONTON — Len Rhodes,… Continue reading

State of mind to be key issue in Alek Minassian trial, judge says

TORONTO — The trial of a man accused of killing ten people… Continue reading

Home explosion, fire taking a toll on London, Ont., neighbourhood: fire official

LONDON, Ont. — A gas explosion and a large fire that triggered… Continue reading

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

OTTAWA — First Nations women will finally be treated the same as… Continue reading

Andrew Scheer calls on Liberal MPs to further probe SNC-Lavalin affair

OTTAWA — Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion says he’s willing to testify… Continue reading

Liberals unveil $3B sole-source deal for armoured vehicles ahead of election

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government has unveiled plans to award a… Continue reading

Most Read