Parks as playgrounds or protected places? Albertans get chance to help decide

Albertans are getting the chance to help the government decide how to balance environmental protection for its parks with demand for more campsites and off-road trails.

CALGARY — Albertans are getting the chance to help the government decide how to balance environmental protection for its parks with demand for more campsites and off-road trails.

“For the first time Albertans will, in each region, have the ability to help plan parks. In the past, it might have been done by staff and by specific groups. Now there will be a balance at the table and all will have a voice,” Parks Minister Cindy Ady said Monday.

Under a new 10-year plan, Albertans will be asked for input on how parks in their regions should be used, although the government has the final say. How that consultation will happen isn’t spelled out.

A new parks advisory council made up of government, business, academic and aboriginal leaders to advise Ady on park policies and projects. A new way is also to be developed for nominating areas for provincial park status.

Other goals include consulting more with aboriginals on park planning, upgrading park amenities and bringing in an online campground reservation system.

Starting May 1, Albertans will be able to book camping spots online up to three months in advance for a $10 fee.

The final plan released Monday was preceded by two drafts and was done after talks with environmentalists, recreation enthusiasts, tourism operators and local politicians.

Greg Belland, executive director of the southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said the document is more focused than earlier drafts but falls far short of expectations.

“It’s still pretty weak,” he said in an interview. “It has no specifics with respect to completing the parks system, expanding the parks system, where and when.

“It’s basically a plan to do a plan.”

Belland questioned regionalized parks planning.

“It downloads the creation of parks to community groups or these regional land-use plans, so where’s the overall strategy for the province? That’s not there.”

If, for example, more campgrounds are allowed, where will they be allowed and what rules must they follow, Belland asked.

“We are for recreational opportunities and access to those opportunities, but the plan doesn’t say where.”

There are about 500 provincial parks in Alberta covering more than 27,000 square kilometres in total — about four per cent of the province and half the size of its national parks.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP investigate possible drowning at Pigeon Lake: Man and woman found dead on shore

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

Red Deer Region Highland Dancing Association to participate in national dance-a-thon

Central Albertan dancers have missed performing during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the… Continue reading

Maskwacis teen charged in 10-year-old boy’s death

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

Still no mandatory masks in Red Deer

While a growing number of Alberta communities have made masks mandatory, the… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

69 salmonella cases in B.C. linked to red onions, province’s CDC says

VANCOUVER — The BC Centre for Disease Control is warning people in… Continue reading

Puncher’s chance: Fighting is up during unique NHL playoffs

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ season was hanging by a thread from one… Continue reading

Quebec festivals organizers look to innovate as restrictions loosened

Montreal has been having its quietest summer in recent memory, as COVID-19… Continue reading

COVID-19 outbreaks over in federal prisons, staff preparing for ‘new normal’

COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada’s federal prisons have been declared over, and staff… Continue reading

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

OTTAWA — The federal government will match all individual donations from Canadians… Continue reading

Protests in Beirut amid public fury over massive blast

BEIRUT — Police fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators in Lebanon’s… Continue reading

Most Read