The province is temporarily suspending debate on its controversial Alberta Parks Act, seeking more input from Albertans before moving ahead.
The intent of Bill 29 was to “simplify,” “consolidate” and “modernize” Alberta’s numerous existing parks legislation, says Cindy Ady, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation in a press release.
“What I have heard throughout debate on Bill 29 is that people are passionate about parks and I respect that passion,” says Ady. “We will continue our important work to ensure that parks protect our province’s unique natural heritage while also providing Albertans with access to ample outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Environmental and legal experts criticized the bill, arguing it would erode current environmental protections, open the door to further industrial and recreation intrusions and grant the parks minister sole power to change the rules with a 60-day public notice.
Today’s announcement was welcome news for Sarah Elmeligi, senior conservation planner for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, who argues more in-depth consultation is warranted for such major overhauls to parks legislation.
“Today we can celebrate the fact our minister heard the voices of Albertans and took those voices to heed and decided to further consult Albertans to create this legislation,” says Elmeligi.
Elmeligi supports the province’s attempt to streamline the various legislations, but cautions laws protecting the most vulnerable wilderness and ecological areas must be included in future legislation as well as details as to what activities are permitted and not permitted in those areas.