“Albertans across our province value our great outdoors and rightfully want to see it conserved and protected for their children and grandchildren,” Kenney said. “Our Common Sense Conservation Plan will take a balanced approach to environmental stewardship, recognizing that recreation, economic use and conservation can and should support each other.”
“The NDP government has too often taken a different approach, setting Albertans against one another, and using environmental policies as a political wedge rather than an opportunity to bring Albertans together on common ground.”
Under the Common Sense Conservation Plan, a United Conservative government would:
- Introduce the Alberta Trails Act to protect trails for today’s generations and future generations.
- Increase funding for the Alberta Land Trust Grant Program by 50%to further help establish and administer conservation projects, while also preserving other priority policies and programs, such as the Alberta Wetland Policy and Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, at existing funding levels.
- Protect Creeks and Streams on the Eastern Slopes by increasing funding by $1 million to the Alberta Riparian Habitat Protection Society’s “Cows and Fish” Program, works with ranchers to keep livestock from damaging creeks, streams and the critical riparian areas that border them. A UCP government would also seek matching private sector funds.
- Create a dedicated fund for restoring and creating trails, preventing damage to Alberta’s great outdoors and hiring additional enforcement officers. The fund would be paid for by applying a modest $30 annual trail permit fee to Off-Highway Vehicles and random camping trailers
- Implement a balanced (back country) land use plan to ensure all Albertans can enjoy public lands and appreciate the wilderness.
- Review Alberta Environment and Parks Acts in regards to parks and public land. Many significant issues facing Alberta parks today were not contemplated with the legislation was last reviewed.
- Improve data collection to improve environmental outcomesrelating to parks and public land to ensure they meet the needs of Albertans in the 21st century in environmentally sustainable ways.
- Ensure that more department staff work in the outdoors and with local stakeholders, including facilitating visitor enjoyment of the back country, conducting environmental monitoring, continued by-law enforcement.
- Strengthen Partnerships with Park Societies: Not for profit park societies across Alberta do important work to maintain and improve parks. A UCP government would set aside $2 million over four years to pilot an expanded role with park societies.
- Ensure that all major economic development proposals continue to be subject to mandatory environmental impact assessments.
- Ensure that in the future, all major environmental protection proposals will be subject to mandatory social-economic impact assessments, so as to allow the government to strike the appropriate balance between economic growth and environmental protection.
- Encourage and increase the use of development credits and conservation offsets in provincial development policy.
- Deal with illegal drainage of wetlands by creating statutory tort action for adversely affected downstream private landowners.
“Albertans, and people from across Canada and around the world, come here to enjoy the scenic beauty of our outdoors and the many recreational opportunities it offers,” Kenney said. “We understand that our land and water resources are finite, and that’s why we’re announcing today that a United Conservative government would implement a long-term plan continuing Alberta’s proud tradition of environmental stewardship.”
A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found, here. (PDF)