By Letter to the Editor on June 27, 2020.
Have you ever had a picnic in an Alberta provincial park? Been ice-fishing on Jensen Reservoir or camped at Park Lake?
The future of 175 parks and recreational areas that Albertans have enjoyed since the parks system was created in 1932 is facing disastrous changes.
In March, the government announced that “Twenty parks will have full or partial closures in 2020” and “The government has identified 164 sites proposed for partnershipsÉ Sites removed from the parks system would have their legal park designations removed, and could be open for alternate management approaches.” https://albertaparks.ca/news-events/.
Here are some questions for the government:
Why has there been no public consultation? The law states that before changes to parks can be made, “the Minister must ensure that appropriate public consultation has been carried out.”
2. Why are you ignoring Albertans? A public opinion survey conducted in mid-March shows that almost seven in 10 Albertans oppose the closure or removal of these parks from the parks system.
3. Why is there no protection from industrial development in the future? According to the government’s announcement: “Sites removed from the parks system would have their legal park designations removed, and could be open for alternate management approaches.” That means the parks could be opened up to municipal gravel pits, commercial forestry, mining, or oil and gas.
4. Why change the protection given to more than a third of provincial parks and recreation areas? While they are relatively small in area, they are the most accessible areas for Albertans to access and to enjoy their picnic areas, campsites, rivers and lakes. Why take this away from us?
5. Are the cost savings worth it? According to the government’s budget for 2020, this reduction in parks will save taxpayers $5 million. That’s a saving for each Albertan of $1.14 a year. Maybe we should each mail in $1.14 to the minister to make our point?
If these changes do take place, they will be almost impossible to reverse. We will lose all those places that we hold dear. Why allow this government to rip away these areas from our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren? These lands, campsites, fire pits, boat launches and trails belong to us, not our politicians.
Please write to the Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, firstname.lastname@example.org, and your MLA (Lethbridge East is Nathan Neudorf lethbridge.East@assembly.ab.ca. ) and let them know that you will not stand for the destruction and privatization of Alberta’s parks and recreation areas.