Groups ramp up parks campaign as Minister puts off controversial Bill 29

CALGARY — “More parks now, not Bill 29” is the updated rallying cry of lead groups, such as Sierra Club Canada, in the public campaign that last November successfully got the Stelmach government to stall passage of the Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation’s (TPR) controversial new parks legislation. 

Bill 29 (the Alberta Parks Act) is designed to replace Alberta’s existing parks network and its overarching laws. Late this past Friday (4:54 pm), Minister Cindy Ady emailed an update announcing she won’t be bringing Bill 29 back to the spring sitting of the Legislature. 

In November, within a few of weeks of its introduction in the Legislature, the Stelmach government received more than 2000 personal letters opposing Bill 29 - this despite no one in the public receiving advanced notice or having seen a draft of Bill 29.

Last Friday’s announcement was contained in an update emailed (see below) to those on her department’s TPR News list. The “Consultations & Notifications” page of her department’s website lists consultation as “closed” and no consultation plan is outlined, although it also says the government continues to work with Albertans on the Bill.  Ever since November 25th when the Minister and her Cabinet colleagues suspended passage, and she undertook to consult with Albertans, the website has only carried an email address – that of her communications staff – for feedback.

“It’s overdue that the Minister and her Cabinet colleges get on track with what Albertan’s have said is their number one priority for parks – establish more parks!”, emphasizes Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club Canada’s Alberta WILD Director.

“It’s been almost two years now since the Minister’s policy framework document, Alberta Plan for Parks, committed to setting up a nomination process for new parks,” points out Sam Gunsch of Sierra Club Canada.  “One can go on the government website and find applications to develop public land or even to buy public land, but none to protect it as new parks for our grandkids or for the habitat protection of endangered wildlife like caribou or grizzly bears.” 

Released with much fan-fair in April 2009, when Albertans and the media looked inside its covers, there were no candidate new parks in the five-year “plan,” despite population growth, popularity of parks and their contribution to the economy. The current network of parks contributes roughly half of the total economic activity attributed to Alberta’s tourism sector.

The government has yet to meet its own "preservation targets" for parks and protected areas, set in 1995.  Forty percent of Albertans use the province’s parks, which constitutes 4% of the land area of Alberta. Eighty-nine percent of the parks average only 10 square kilometers in size - something an average person can walk across in an hour or so.

According to the government’s own polls, the majority of Albertans believe more natural land should be set aside from resource development.  But during the time of the Stelmach government, creation of parks hasn’t kept pace with population growth.  Under the previous premier the Progressive Conservative lead government established 80 new parks and expanded 13.

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For more information:

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

See “Minister's Update” email below

See "Progress on Level 1 Targets" link at

----- Original Message -----

From: ParkNews
Sent: Friday, February 04, 2011 4:54 PM
Subject: More work needed on parks legislation

With Spring Session of the Alberta Legislature approaching, some Albertans have asked me about the future of new parks legislation.


Since November, when I announced that debate on the legislation was put on hold, I have continued to listen to the views of Albertans and stakeholder groups about legislation.


I have spent the past couple of months reflecting on that feedback, and it is clear to me that there are a full range of issues and challenges facing our parks system that new legislation needs to address. Parks legislation needs to work in the interest of all Albertans to ensure that our parks are not only protected, but accessible to Albertans for their recreation and well-being.

Whenever I walk through Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary, I am struck by the wonderful co-existence of nature and recreation – which we all know contributes to healthy lifestyles. A recent Ipsos Reid survey found that 87 per cent of Canadians agree that the more strongly connected they feel to nature, the happier they are.


We are blessed in this province to have nearly 500 parks, and I am proud of our Ministry’s many recent accomplishments. We have expanded sites like Lois Hole Centennial and Sir Winston Churchill provincial parks to better protect important bird areas. We are also making it easier for Albertans and visitors to access campsites through which re-opens February 22 at 51 provincial campgrounds, including Little Bow Provincial Park near Lethbridge.


We need a parks system that continues to benefit all Albertans, and new legislation that serves Albertans’ best interests. While I had planned to bring park legislation back this Spring, I will spend the time needed to address the main concerns raised by Albertans before moving forward with new legislation.


We have strong policy direction through the Plan for Parks, and we need new legislation to back it up.


I encourage interested Albertans and stakeholders to visit or subscribe to Parks News to be notified and get involved in future public consultations.


Cindy Ady
Minister of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation