ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐊᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton), AB – Alberta’s recently released budget for 2023 is causing concern for CPAWS Northern and Southern Alberta for failing to prioritize environmental protection and conservation. According to recent polling, 77% of Albertans support increased protected areas, while 85% are in favour of the province committing to protecting 30% of its land for conservation purposes by 2030, in support of Canada’s international commitment.
“Budget 2023 makes it clear that the environment is not a priority for this government,” says Tara Russell, Program Director with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “While other jurisdictions are taking action to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, Alberta is doing the bare minimum or actively acting against the best interests of nature.”
The 2023-2026 strategic plan outlines “ensuring the health and integrity of Alberta’s environment and ecosystem” as an objective, but the details contained in it are weak and unambitious. The plan contains only three bullet points, with no mention of increased protected areas, species recovery, or meeting Global Biodiversity Framework goals. Furthermore, the business plan for the ministry of Environment and Protected areas does not include any budget lines to increase protected areas in the province.
Despite this disappointing lack of investment, the budget does allocate funding for ongoing caribou recovery planning and other land use planning, which are both sorely needed in the province.
“The new ministry of Forestry, Parks and Tourism includes substantial investments in the refurbishing and building of recreational trails on crown land in Alberta’s Eastern Slopes, an area with sensitive wildlife that does not yet have a comprehensive trail plan. This includes money being given to off highway vehicle groups – a minority user group in Alberta’s Eastern Slopes. Unfortunately, there is no mention of new funding dedicated to Alberta Parks,” says Katie Morrison, Executive Director with CPAWS Southern Alberta. “While trail maintenance is needed in some areas, embedding or expanding trails before examining where they are most appropriate could continue to detrimentally impact wildlife, aquatic health and other recreational users.”
In a year when Albertans have expressed concern about irresponsible resource development and the integrity of the province’s parks system, it is disappointing to see these desires ignored in the provincial government’s budget. The government must listen to the concerns of its citizens and take concrete action to protect Alberta’s environment and conserve its natural heritage.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tara Russell, Program Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta
Katie Morrison, Executive Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta