Posted on May 27, 2021
NDP INTRODUCES BILL TO DEFEND ALBERTA’S PARKS
EDMONTON — Alberta’s NDP have introduced a private member’s bill that would prevent the government from selling or delisting provincial parks without consulting Albertans.
Bill 218: Provincial Parks (Protecting Park Boundaries) Amendment Act, 2021, stipulates that the government cannot reduce the size of a provincial park or remove them from the parks system without public consultation and approval from the Legislature. If the government wishes to remove a park from the system, it has to present the changes to the public, engage with Albertans for at least 60 days, and pass a resolution by the legislature to implement the change.
“Our parks are part of our natural heritage and they hold a deep intrinsic and economic value. They’re part of our identity and Albertans should have a say in how they’re managed,” said NDP Environment and Parks Critic Marlin Schmidt. “Unfortunately, the UCP would rather sell them off or close them altogether.”
The Bill requires the government to conduct public consultation before decreasing the size or changing the designation of a park or recreation area.
All proposed changes must be posted on a publicly accessible website and Albertans must be able to make written submissions on the proposed changes. A summary of the written submission would then be posted publicly within 14 days of the consultation period.
If the government wishes to proceed with changes to parks after public consultation, they must receive approval from the Legislature.
The Bill comes in response to the UCP government’s attempt to fully or partially close 20 parks or recreation areas, and delisting 164 sites in hopes that third parties could take over their management.
The move created significant backlash from Albertans and a campaign that saw lawn signs spring up around the province in opposition to the plan. In December, the UCP announced it was no longer closing or delisting provincial parks.
“The UCP can’t be trusted with our parks. They’ve already tried to sell them off once and opened up our mountains for open-pit coal mining without consulting Albertans,” said Schmidt. “We need to protect our parks so this can’t happen again.”