‘Hypocritical:’ Alberta NDP call out UCP refusal to consult on parks changes

‘Hypocritical:’ Alberta NDP call out UCP refusal to consult on parks changes

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition leader is calling out the province’s environment minister for contradicting himself by refusing to consult the public over plans to shrink the province’s parks system.

“This is intensely hypocritical action by Jason Nixon,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

“He knows full well Albertans would not agree to this.”

This week, documents released under freedom of information legislation revealed that Nixon told his staff there would be no public input for changes he’s planning for Alberta parks.

Nixon announced in March that the United Conservative government plans to fully or partially close 20 provincial parks and hand off another 164 to third-party managers. Sites for which no managers can be found are to lose park status and revert to general Crown land.

Despite advice from his most senior staffers that at least two rounds of consultation were called for, a document labelled advice to cabinet states: “As recommended by (the minister’s office) and communications, recommended option is to not do consultation.”

Notley contrasts that to Nixon’s position before the last provincial election, when he was fighting plans to create a park in the Bighorn area Alberta foothills. Nixon accused the then-NDP government of trying to ram the plans through before the vote without adequate consultation.

“It is completely unacceptable for the NDP to arbitrarily cancel in-person consultation,” he said in January 2019.

“Sadly, it’s increasingly clear that the NDP isn’t interested in listening to those who live and work in the region.”

Notley scoffed at the apparent change of opinion.

“Before the election, Jason Nixon dined out on the fact that after 10 years of consultation on Bighorn we still hadn’t consulted enough. Jason Nixon doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Nixon and his staffers have downplayed concerns over the changes.

“We are using a successful model that has existed in the province for decades to leverage partnerships on public lands to keep a vast majority of facilities accessible to Albertans,” department spokesman John Muir wrote in an email.

“Ecologically-sensitive areas of the province will continue to be protected through the regional planning process whether under the Parks or Public Lands Act. All of those protections will continue and parks will not be sold.”

Notley took little comfort, pointing that much Crown land is simply leased, not sold, to industry.

“(Oilsands companies) don’t own that land. They lease it.

“(The government) never says ‘We’ll never lease that land to a coal mine operator or we will never lease this land to clear-cut it.’ All they say is they won’t sell any parks.”

The New Democrats have started a campaign to fight the proposed changes, which are expected to take five years to implement.

Notley said that in the first three days of the Don’t Go Breaking My Parks campaign, 11,000 letters were written from the public to protest the plans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2020

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Community Partners reorganizes to better serve clients

The facility was thoroughly cleaned and reorganized during its shutdown due to COVID-19

Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases continue to trend downwards

85 new cases Tuesday, active cases sit at 1,004

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes returns to Sylvan Lake Aug. 21

Sylvan Lake Rotary Club is hosting the third annual event which raises domestic violence awareness

‘Is this a town garden?’ Sylvan Lake resident has been gardening for 7 decades

Most summer days, Joel McCutcheon is in his garden pulling weeds, tending flowers and mowing

Charges likely in fatal attack at central Alberta medical clinic: RCMP

A vigil was held Monday night to mourn the victim

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Donations pour in for family of doctor killed in Red Deer attack

Man has been charged in connection to death of Red Deer doctor

Vigil held in Maskwacis for 10-year-old boy

Samson Cree Nation comes together for comfort, console each other

Cuts to environmental monitoring budget In Alberta’s oilsands are viewed as reckless

The 2019-2020 budget saw $58 million dollars being dedicated to environmental monitoring

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

Most Read