Albertans & Minister applauded for pulling parks back from brink of disaster

Edmonton & Calgary:  Sierra Club Canada is thanking Albertans for coming to the rescue of their parks and the Minister for, in the nick of time, hearing citizen’s opposition and withdrawing her proposed new parks legislation.  In a scrum at the Alberta Legislature today, the Minister announced she is withdrawing the controversial Bill 29 and undertaking public consultation on the proposed new legislation for Alberta’s parks network.  That network protects 4% of Alberta.

“We can hear a sigh of relief coming from throughout Alberta and points beyond.” says Dianne Pachal, Alberta WILD Director with Sierra Club Canada.  “The best solution would have been to drop the Bill altogether and focus on what Albertans said was their number one priority – establish more parks. But we can’t underscore how happy we are that the Minister pulled our parks back from the brink of disaster.

The prior Progressive Conservative lead government under Ralph Klein established a suite of 81 new parks, including Wildland Parks and Ecological Reserves, and expanded 13 parks using the current legislation.  Visitor and phone surveys conducted by the Tourism, Parks and Recreation Department tow years ago found that Albertan’s number one priority for parks is establishing more.

Sierra Club Canada will be following up with the Minister asking that Alberta’s receive at least as good a level of consultation as what the Ontario government did for their new parks legislation.  The organization will be encouraging the Minister and her department to undertake a two month long, public and First Nation consultation period to dialogue on what in the current legislation needs improvement.  Following drafting of the new legislation making use of that information, they’ll be asking for public and First Nation consultation on the draft legislation before it is introduced into the Legislature, including meetings with key stakeholders, Treaty Organizations, inviting input from aboriginal communities, and holding public open houses in communities across Alberta.

At a meeting with the Minister last Friday, Pachal already asked the Minister to make use of the government’s 2000 MLA Committee Report and Recommendations on the Natural Heritage Act as a starting point for improving the existing legislation.  The Natural Heritage Act was very similar to Bill 29 and was stopped by public opposition in 1999.

For more information:

  • Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club Canada, 403 234-7368 (Calgary)
  • Sam Gunsch, Sierra Club Canada, 780 885-5624 (Edmonton)