Defend Alberta Parks: What to Expect in 2022

In December 2020, the Alberta government announced the “Optimizing Alberta Parks” plan was not going ahead. Thousands of people from across Alberta spoke up against the proposal to close or delist parks. 

Over the past year, the Alberta Environmental Network and CPAWS Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta chapters continued to advocate for the long-term protection of Alberta’s parks. Potential changes to the parks system and outstanding questions on partnerships highlight the risks to public parks.


A look back to 2021

Defend Alberta Parks was started to stop the closure and removal of 175 parks in 2020. The Alberta government walked back from their plan in December 2020, but there were outstanding questions and concerns. People from across Alberta continued to stand up for the ongoing protection of public parks in 2021.

Uncertainty over parks partnerships
The December 2020 announcement mentioned the intention to create or sustain 170 parks partnerships, but all partnerships listed already existed. There were many outstanding questions about the new partnerships

For new partnerships, there were no details on which groups would be partners or the types of agreements between the government and partners. Defend Alberta Parks continued to seek clarification on the status and nature of parks partnerships.  
Defend Alberta Parks awarded an Emerald Award
Every year, the Emerald Awards celebrates outstanding environmental achievements across the province. Defend Alberta Parks was nominated in the Public Outreach & Engagement category, and the campaign received the award in a virtual ceremony in June 2021. 

This award recognized the incredible support the campaign received across the province from hundreds of volunteers in many Alberta cities and towns. It was successful because of the collective effort of everyone who participated – from displaying a lawn sign to countless hours volunteering delivering flyers and signs.


What to expect in 2022

Potential legislative changes
Legislative changes to Alberta’s parks system are expected under the province’s new Crown Land Vision. Defend Alberta Parks will continue to ensure that all of these areas and the entire provincial parks system maintain equivalent or stronger protections under any proposed changes to park legislation.

Continue looking into parks partnerships
The December announcement to reverse the “Optimizing Alberta Parks” plan was light on details. Two months after the announcement, further information about the partnership arrangements was not been released yet.

Albertans deserve to know who will be running our parks and whether they will be required to meet the same recreational and environmental standards as Alberta Environment and Parks.

Defend Alberta Parks will continue to push the Government of Alberta for more information on how partnerships will work, who the partners are, and how partnerships will help to support environmental protection and accessible recreation as top priorities.