The laws that protect our parks and public lands are being changed.
On top of the individual mental and physical health benefits of parks, they also provide us with clean drinking water, store carbon in their trees, soils and grasses, and provide homes for the wildlife that many of us admire and depend on for food.
Our laws should make sure that these important values are enshrined and protected – for us, and for all future generations.
A chance for Alberta to be a world leader
Managed for the Public Good
In February 2020, the Government of Alberta announced their intention to remove 175 parks from the Alberta parks system. This decision has since been reversed, but only because of pushback from tens of thousands of Albertans.
In December, along with the announcement that parks would no longer be closed or delisted, the Alberta government released a list of new partnerships for 105 parks. Albertans were left to struggle to understand the details: how will these partnerships be managed? Who are the partnering groups?
Ultimately, we believe that parks are a public good, and as such, they should be publicly funded. Partnerships should add value to a given area, and not solely function to offload responsibility and costs to partner organizations. Albertans need more information to trust that partners will be held accountable and uphold the core values of our parks system: sustainable outdoor recreation and conservation of the environment.
Recipient of an Alberta Emerald Award
In the spring of 2021, the Defend Alberta Parks campaign was nominated and received an Emerald Award in the Public Outreach and Engagement category. The success of the campaign was a joint effort between the Alberta Environmental Network, CPAWS Southern Alberta, CPAWS Northern Alberta chapter, and our many volunteers.
Thank you the Alberta Emerald Foundation for creating this platform that recognizes Environmental campaigns in Alberta.
About the Alberta Emerald Foundation: The Foundation ‘showcases our province’s leaders who raise the bar in addressing local, regional, and global environmental & climate issues, a standard of excellence is set that inspires and empowers others in their own practices’. Learn more here.
Past Victories of the Defend Alberta Parks Campaign
It’s because of you that our parks are still protected today.
The Defend Alberta Parks campaign began in February of 2020 to oppose the Government of Alberta’s decision to remove and close 175 provincial park sites (the “Optimizing Alberta Parks” plan). After a long push by tens of thousands of Albertans who wrote their MLAs, pitched Defend Alberta Parks signs in their yards, and advocated for their parks, the Government of Alberta reversed the decision in December 2020.
As a recipient of an Emerald Award, we were honoured to partake in the Alberta Emerald Foundation’s yearly documentary series. Watch this short to learn more about the campaign and the lasting impact it has had.
Help Protect Nature
In November 2020, the Government of Alberta released its new Crown Land Vision. The document clearly states that big changes will be made to our parks and protected area legislation this year to “modernize it for the 21st century.”
CPAWS Northern Alberta believes that modernizing parks and protected area legislation means strengthening our laws to face modern challenges. Parks and protected areas have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises facing our planet, and our legislation should be strong enough to enable this.
Changes to our parks and protected area legislation should serve to strengthen, not weaken, environmental protections.
Alberta parks should be accessible to everyone
In January 2021, the Government of Alberta held a public consultation on sustainable outdoor recreation. The consultation included a survey that asked numerous questions about what kind of usage fees Albertans would be willing to pay to access their parks.
CPAWS Northern Alberta feels strongly that strong policies and legislation are critical to ensure long-term protection of these places and recreational activities. Creation of land policies or changes to them must be carefully considered so that our parks and public lands are managed to prioritize nature, while still providing places and opportunities for sustainable recreation and other uses. Sustainable management for recreation, industry and conservation on public land will only be possible in conjunction with a fully functioning and effective public parks system and strong parks legislation.