Government halts some coal exploration during ongoing consultation: positive momentum that needs to keep going
April 24, 2021
CPAWS Southern and Northern Alberta Chapters are happy to hear that more than 25,000 Albertans participated in the initial Coal Policy Engagement consultation and that it will help shape the next stage of consultation. Alberta’s foothills and Rocky Mountains are special places beloved by Albertans and are a large part of what draws people to live, work, and play in our province. It is clear that Albertans are incredibly invested in the protection of this landscape and the development of a new policy for this region. We encourage people to continue to stay engaged on this issue.
“We welcome the announcement that exploration activity will not go forward in Category 2 lands this summer. These important areas should not be subject to unnecessary damage while Albertans are having conversations on the future of this landscape,” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with CPAWS Southern Alberta. However, she adds that “all exploration and development approvals should also be paused in Category 3 and 4 lands, pending the creation of a new policy, supported by Albertans.”
CPAWS believes that development of a new plan for our Eastern Slopes needs to address our collective vision for the entire landscape, including these Category 3 and 4 lands which also contain important headwaters, critical habitat for species at risk, and provide recreation and tourism benefits to Albertans.
“Moving forward, we are glad to hear that the panel is confident that they will provide a consultation process that is transparent, independent from political motivations, and does not lead the public towards a predetermined outcome. We will continue to engage in and monitor the process to ensure that this is the case,” states Chris Smith, Parks Coordinator with CPAWS Northern Alberta.
The results of consultation must be presented accurately. They must reflect the input of Albertans and the long-term public interest of the province, not a “balance” between public input and coal companies’ desires.
Albertans have made it clear to CPAWS Southern and Northern Alberta that a new comprehensive policy needs to effectively protect the Eastern Slopes and the environmental, social, and economic values that this invaluable landscape provides, not facilitate new coal development. We look forward to working with Albertans, and with the panel to move forward recommendations towards a new land-use plan, not a policy that focuses solely on how to regulate new coal mines.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the biodiversity within them. Over the last 50+ years, CPAWS has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory. Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.
CPAWS has chapters in almost every province and territory across Canada, and two chapters here in Alberta – a Southern Alberta chapter located in Calgary and a Northern Alberta chapter located in Edmonton. As a collaborative organization, CPAWS works closely with government of all levels, industry representatives, and communities to manage our impact on a shared landscape. We also advocate for the creation of parks and protected areas for the benefit of both current and future generations of Canadians.