January 18th, 2019

Majority of Albertans support new parks: poll


By Mabell, Dave on January 10, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Alberta’s alpine national parks – Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes – rank among the province’s top attractions.

But when it comes to provincial parks, Kananaskis Country may be all that comes to mind. Apart from the remote Willmore Wilderness Provincial Park north of Jasper, the recently created provincial parks in the Castle River valley are Alberta’s only substantial mountainous areas protected by park status.

To the east, Albertans also share an inter-provincial park, Cypress Hills, with Saskatchewan.

So a new province-wide survey, showing 73 per cent of Albertans support the addition of a new provincial parks group in west-central Alberta, may come as no surprise.

The Alberta-based Advantis Research group reported 16 per cent disagreed, while 11 per cent had no opinion.

Responding to the provincial government’s proposal to create new parks and protected areas in the Bighorn area west of Rocky Mountain House, Albertans cited protecting fish, wildlife and the North Saskatchewan River’s headwaters as reasons to proceed.

Creating better recreational opportunities for Albertans and diversifying the local economy were given as further benefits. An Alberta Parks plan, now at the discussion stage, would see about $40 million committed over a five-year period for logistical improvements, maintenance and staffing.

Historically, the nearby Park Lake reservoir was designated as Alberta’s first provincial park and many that followed are not significantly larger. By comparison, British Columbia has created a number of major provincial parks -Garibaldi, Strathcona, Manning, Wells Gray, Purcell Wilderness and others – over the years.

And many Albertans are not far from mid-sized B.C. parks including Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, Kokanee Glacier, Height of the Rockies and Top of the World.

As proposed, Alberta Parks would create a wilderness provincial park, three recreation areas and three smaller provincial parks along with several public land-use zones. Details are available online from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – one of several active proponents – at https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country.

From there, Albertans who wish to register their support or opposition can move over to the provincial parks website.

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