October 1st, 2020

Guest Column: Alberta’s parks belong to everyone

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on March 16, 2020.

Alberta’s parks are part of our identity.

They are representative of our past – many influential Albertans have a park named in their honour – and they serve as a gathering place for the young families that represent our future.

I am deeply troubled by plans to fully or partially close 20 of our provincial parks and turn over the management of dozens more to third parties.

If the last 10 months has taught us anything, it is that there are no limits to the extent to which Jason Kenney and the UCP will cut, dismantle, or sell-off to cover the cost of its failed economic policies.

The UCP were able to find $4.7 billion to hand over to big, profitable corporations in an apparent bid to create jobs. However, that didn’t work – we’ve lost more than 40,000 jobs since the premier signed off on his bogus economic plan.

Now, we’re all paying the price. The minister of environment has said selling off the parks and reducing access will save $5 million. That’s just one-one-thousandth of what was given to big corporations. Meanwhile, these parks serve as a haven for those wanting to get away from their busy lives. They serve as an affordable destination for families looking for a summer vacation. They serve as a recreation hub for hikers, campers, skiers, mountain bikers, you name it.

More than that, they protect our air, our water, our precious landscapes, and our rich and delicate ecosystems so that our beautiful province can continue to be one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family.

The move to offload these parks doesn’t even pass the logic test among Jason Kenney’s own people. These parks are major tourist destinations and the UCP has made it an apparent goal to double tourism revenue in our province. Does that make sense to you? It’s as if one minister in the government cabinet isn’t talking to another.

You have to wonder just what is going through Jason Kenney’s head when he’s willing to hand over billions to big corporations but doesn’t see the value of protecting our parks for a few million.

Our official opposition opposes the sale and closure of these provincial parks on the basis that they belong to all Albertans – they’re not Jason Kenney’s to sell.

We’re going to keep fighting this government’s shortsighted decision and I hope you will join us in speaking up to save Alberta’s provincial parks.

The writer is environment and parks critic for the NDP Official Opposition.

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