EDMONTON, AB – The announcement by the NDP government of full protection for the Castle area harkens back to the legacy created by Bill 36, and the chipping away the rights of property and business owners, the Wildrose Opposition said.
Wildrose Shadow Environment and Parks Minister Todd Loewen said, “The hangover of Bill 36 is still alive and affects those who now fall under the expanded Wildland Provincial Park and new Provincial Park.”
Premier Notley herself stated in 2009 that there is a grand amount of authority and discretion being given to government through Bill 36, a sentiment that the government has now used to designate Castle under the Provincial Parks Act. Wildrose has long advocated to amend 36 and has suggested several times that several of the clauses affecting property rights, statutory consents and compensation to stakeholders be addressed.
“The NDP have long advocated for amendments to be made to the wide sweeping legislation in Bill 36”, Wildrose Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier, who has the Castle area within his riding, said. “We would have been hopeful the new government would have acted on their concerns and implemented amendments to narrow the scope of the bill and strengthen property rights in Alberta before making these changes.”
“The NDP are going to have to negotiate fair market compensation for land, lease, and license holders affected by this move,” Stier said. “With the NDP ending new natural resources industries in the Castle, Wildrose can only hope the development of the tourism industry can offset the economic impact of these decisions.”
Wildrose acknowledges the need to balance the environment and the energy and forestry sectors within the province. However, the balance should include an open dialogue with industry members and the general public.
“This project has been effectively rubber stamped by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips,” Loewen said. “This same Minister advocated for all logging to be shut down in the Castle area in 2012 – it is no surprise she took the measures she did today to end operations.”