Province releases survey on the development of a new strategic vision for recreation and conservation in Alberta’s provincial parks 

June 21, 2024
By: CPAWS Northern Alberta

Edmonton | Amiskwaciwâskahikan, June 21 2024

On June 19, the Government of Alberta released a survey soliciting public feedback on the creation of a new ‘Plan for Parks.’ 

CPAWS Northern and Southern Alberta welcome the opportunity for Albertans to provide feedback on our parks system. Albertans have shown repeatedly that they care about our parks and want more parks for the protection of nature and the benefits that nature provides for recreation, human health, and the many ecosystem services that communities rely on.  

Under Alberta’s Parks Act, the intent of our parks is to “provide for the establishment, protection, management, planning and control of provincial parks, wildland parks and provincial recreation areas, for the preservation of Alberta’s natural heritage and ecological integrity, as well as for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations.” 

Unfortunately, the ‘guiding principles’ in the Plan for Parks do not contain any mention of the conservation of nature, which is not only out of line with the intent of our Parks Act, but sets a dangerous tone amidst a dual biodiversity-climate crisis.  

While the Alberta Parks system is dated, changes made should emphasize the conservation of our lands, water, and wildlife – and ensure that we are stewarding a sustainable future for our provincial parks, so that future generations can responsibly enjoy these beautiful, unique, and valuable places.  

What we do not want to see – and what we are concerned this survey portends – is the further weakening of protections for Alberta’s Provincial Parks system.  

In the wake of the controversial proposal to remove protections from 175 provincial parks that transpired in February of 2020, and the subsequent Defend Alberta Parks campaign, we remain wary regarding announcements of this type from the Government of Alberta.  

“CPAWS Northern and Southern Alberta are very concerned that both the framing of the survey, and the questions themselves, appear to prioritize economic development, motorized recreation, unsustainable levels of tourism, and the potential for resource extraction and other profit-driven activities, at the expense of the conservation and ecological integrity of our provincial parks.”, says Katie Morrison, Executive Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta. 

Any action that the province takes on this front – particularly increasing trail number and heavier-impact trail use, tourism levels, and the potential for privatization or private development activity within our public parks – should not be taken lightly, nor without extensive feedback from the public.  

We therefore encourage all Albertans who want to see our Provincial Parks remain intact and publicly accessible to fill out this survey. 

Further, we suggest the Government of Alberta consider that any ‘Plan for Parks’ ensure that the conservation of nature is the primary guiding principle – and consider that if an increase in demand for park visitation and recreation must be met, we increase the number of parks in our system.  

“As it stands, only 15% of Alberta is protected. Many wildlife populations are declining, and communities are grappling with increased frequency of drought and floods. More and more people are seeking outdoor recreation opportunities. It is time that we recognize that our park system needs to expand in order to ensure our wild space and species have room to thrive, while Albertans and visitors have room to play.” says Kecia Kerr, Executive Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta.

Take the survey

For more information, please contact: 

Kecia Kerr, Executive Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta, Kkerr@cpaws.org, 780 328 3780 | Extension 1 

Josh Killeen, Conservation Manager, CPAWS Southern Alberta 
[email protected] | (587) 921-3243 

Stay tuned! We will be releasing a detailed survey guide shortly. If you would like to take the survey now, we encourage CPAWS supporters to emphasize that protection of nature should be a top priority of the Plan For Parks, that more parks should be designated, and activities that can harm nature should be limited.  

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