2024 March Newsletter

April 18, 2024
By: CPAWS Northern Alberta

2024 March Newsletter

Dear Reader,

March is a time of year where we feel like we are sitting on the edge of our seats as the Government of Alberta’s budget is released, we anticipate the spring sitting of the Legislature, and we get to work planning our gardens and our summer camping trips. Much of the public conversation this month has centered around the buffer zones that will be implemented by the Government of Alberta to protect pristine viewscapes across the province from renewable energy projects. We’ve included our statement on that issue and relevant news pieces at the end of this newsletter. However, the focus of this newsletter is to point your attention towards another policy, or in this case, a bill, that will receive its final reading this upcoming Monday in the Legislature. Enter Bill 204.  
If you support the potential for National Urban Parks in Alberta, we encourage you to write to your MLA and take action opposing this Bill.

Edit: Bill 204 has since passed. We have an updated statement here and a letter of support for a National Urban park here

Bill 204 could impact all future National Urban Parks in Alberta

Though we mostly talk about National Urban Parks in the context of a proposal in the Edmonton region, we want to stress that National Urban Parks are a huge opportunity for nature conservation throughout the province and across the country. The biggest misconception we’ve heard about National Urban Parks is that this would be the Federal Government taking control of beloved local natural areas. Bill 204 stems from misinformation. Its purpose? To keep municipalities from entering agreements to develop a National Urban Park, unless they meet, yet to be specified, conditions determined by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

We put out a statement on Bill 204 when it was first introduced in November 2023.

Bound up in Red Tape: A National Urban Park stopped in its tracks

Bill 204 is scheduled to have its 3rd and final reading in the legislature on Monday April 8. The Bill states “A council may not, except in accordance with the conditions prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, negotiate a proposed national urban park plan with the Government of Canada.”


While the Bill’s sponsor, the MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, has stated that the Bill will prevent a National Urban Park from being created in Albertan’s backyards without their say and will ensure that the province is involved, the Bill actually LIMITS opportunities for Albertans have a say in the process.

The process of creating a National Urban Park would include many opportunities for public engagement. Instead, Bill 204 creates barriers to the process before it begins, limiting communities’ voices.

There are many management routes to shape a National Urban Park in the Edmonton region. Parks Canada sees its role as flexible and that National Urban Park initiatives are to be led by local groups, which you can read about here.

One foot in and one foot out

About two years ago, when the initiative was first announced, the City of Edmonton and Parks Canada started a Partners Table with Indigenous representatives and the Government of Alberta. What is important to note is, rather than join the formal discussions as a partner the Government of Alberta chose to be an ” interested observer”. A representative from the Government of Alberta has attended the Partners Table meetings in that role. The supposed reason for Bill 204, “that the province wants a seat at the table”, is disingenuous. They have had one all along, and could have been formal partners.

There is a pattern of duplicity as the Government of Alberta totes being against federal overreach, and yet, pursues policy or actions (as seen with this bill and their interference with Elk Island NP’s Management Plan) that would restrict municipalities and landowners’ from entering into agreements of benefit to them and the conservation of nature.

A national urban park can present a lot of opportunities for a region: for nature conservation, to contribute to reconciliation, to connect communities, and to increase accessibility to nature.


Take Action

Share your support for National Urban Parks

Email your MLA to let them know you support National Urban Parks and would like to see Alberta be a part of a national network of urban parks.

Take Action

Protect the Wilderness

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