By Letter to the Editor on March 16, 2020.
I am appalled to learn that the Government of Alberta is planning to close, sell or hand over to public enterprises many of Alberta’s provincial parks, especially at a time when there is so much stress in the community caused by the government’s budget, the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the need to increase revenue from tourism. What is the UCP thinking?
1) There has never been a greater need to provide the citizens of Alberta the opportunities to enjoy nature and to destress. It is a proven fact that access to nature provides great health benefits.
2) The parks belong to the citizens of Alberta. They are not to be sold!
3) One of the parks slated for closure, sale or “rent” is Park Lake. This park is heavily used and is the only closely accessible venue for a swim, boating or barbecue to the 100,000 citizens of Lethbridge and surrounding communities. In the summer, it is difficult even to find a parking space there. How can it be concluded that it is “underutilized”?
4) Once these parks are sold or “rented” it is inevitable that there will be entrance fees. Does the UCP think it reasonable that Albertans will need to pay to go for a swim, have a picnic or enjoy nature?
5) With the UCP’s panic to balance the budget, it is doing irreparable damage to the province and its citizens. Once a park is sold, it will become a commercial enterprise.
6) What message is the government sending to the world. “We’re not going to Alberta this year because I hear that they are closing their parks!”
UCP, don’t give me “the parks are costing us more than the revue they generate” BS. It is the government’s responsibility to provide recreational facilities to its citizens and to protect natural habitats in perpetuity. The government has a revenue problem, not a spending problem!