Park Plan Poor
An overhaul of the province's Parks Act may be well-intentioned and even necessary, but as it is currently written, it is dangerous. It puts the fate of Alberta's 500 parks at risk because it allocates unprecedented power to the parks minister to determine what development will be allowed.
Reminiscent of notorious Bill 50 and its arbitrary approval of billions of dollars of transmission lines, Bill 29, the Alberta Parks Act, gives the minister unilateral powers that should remain the purview of cabinet.
The bill purports "to foster an Alberta parks system that conserves unique and representative land within Alberta's natural regions for present and future generations while balancing environmental conservation and recreation and tourism opportunities," but it removes protections for wilderness areas and ecological reserves. There is no overriding mandate to ensure the ecological integrity of parks is maintained.
No wonder conservation groups are up in arms. The bill speaks in broad terms about what the government wants to accomplish, but the devil is in the details -- and there are no details. The minister says those will come later in accompanying regulations that will not be subject to debate in the legislature.
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