Big Horn Provincial Park is being proposed by the Alberta government. (Contributed photo). Big Horn Provincial Park is being proposed by the Alberta government. (Contributed photo).

Group against Big Horn Park proposal to rally in Red Deer

As opponents of the Big Horn Park proposal plan to rally this week in Red Deer, the government has scheduled a public information session at Westerner Park.

Opponents are planning to protest the contentious park proposal at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, outdoors in the west parking lot of the Servus Arena, 4725 43rd St.

One of their biggest beefs is that there hasn’t been enough consultation with user groups of the Big Horn area as the government pushes ahead to create a $40-million provincial park.

But on Tuesday, the Alberta government announced four public information sessions about the park plan, including one in Red Deer on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Westerner Park, 4847A-19th St.

The others will be in Sundre on Monday, Feb. 4 at the local legion, as well as Drayton Valley and Edmonton, respectively on Feb. 1 and 2.

Despite the Red Deer session, city resident Troy Dezall, of Turple Bros. Ltd., fears “the government is just trying to ram this through.” He said a similar open house in Rocky was staffed by government workers without the political power to change the proposal, based on public input.

A park created in the Castle area, near Pincher Creek, resulted in 75 to 90 per cent of off-road vehicle trails being taken away — even though the government promised there would be few changes, Dezall added.

“We don’t feel we can trust them.”

Speakers at the rally will air their objections to the Alberta government’s plan for the area east of Banff National Park.

While many Albertans are celebrating the park initiative that could help protect an ecologically sensitive and picturesque recreational, opponents argue that the proposal will not allow off-highway vehicle use, will curtail land use by hikers, equestrians, bikers and native landowners, and will prohibit commercial activities such as forestry and oil.

Organizers of the Red Deer rally have requested participants not wear yellow vests to the protest: “We ask that you do not dilute our message for this important campaign and leave your vests at home.”

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