For those who call Alberta home, we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It doesn’t matter where you hang your hat in this great province. Whether you live in the south along the wide open prairies, the north under the huge boreal forest or near the iconic eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, we all cherish our rich diversity of landscapes and our abundance of resources.
Our shared love for the land and our desire to protect it for our grandchildren and their children is what drives us. It also motivated our ancestors. In Alberta’s early days, the government set aside public lands to be managed by the Crown. Later, a parks system was also set aside to make sure all Albertans could enjoy the outdoors through recreation and camping while also protecting biodiversity. Together, parks and public lands – known as Crown lands – were administered under one system to be managed by the government for all Albertans and Indigenous peoples. Today, our Crown lands cover a vast amount of our province – about 60 per cent and are used for recreation, conservation and economic development.
Many existing policies were drafted with the notion in mind that specific areas of crown land only have one use. Crown land policies need to recognize the fact that the land owned by all Albertans is used for multiple purposes, included those listed above.
The Alberta Crown Land Vision is our way forward. This vision will guide our work toward creating a common-sense approach to Crown land management by finding the right balance, simplifying the system, making sure we focus on outcomes not processes, and support recreation in a way this province can afford and help us work as partners with communities, municipalities, and Indigenous peoples who use Crown land to practice Treaty rights.
This was our commitment to Albertans when we ran in 2019 and it remains our commitment.
It means understanding different perspectives to find the approach that works best for everyone. In some areas, a working landscape will be ideal with a mix of uses and various benefits. In other areas, conservation will be the main priority. We will use these diverse voices to update old, out-of-date Crown land rules that overlap with or duplicate other rules. We will update legislation and regulations that have accumulated over the years. We will simplify and make the rules easy to understand. And we will focus on outcomes – namely environmental protecrion, recreation and economic development – rather than further burdening Albertans with an overly administrative process that can get bogged down.
An important part of effectively managing Crown land is supporting sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities for Albertans to enjoy. To address the challenges of the increasing demand for recreation and trails in parks and on public land, we have committed to bring forward new measures, such as a Trails Act and fee framework, that will help deliver on those expectations. We want to hear from you about ways we can help make this happen.
You have the opportunity to share your ideas on how to support the development and sustainable use of trails, including how funding is generated and how dollars can be re-invested into recreation while also supporting education and enforcement activities.
You can also share your thoughts on how to strengthen partnerships with non-profit groups, businesses, municipalities and Indigenous communities, who have an important role in supporting fun, responsible and sustainable recreation on Crown land.
Please visit alberta.ca and search sustainable outdoor recreation engagement to participate and share your ideas.
Over the coming weeks and months, there will be other opportunities for Albertans to provide input on other Crown land initiatives. Together, we will create a clear understandable system for land use, support sustainable funding and partnerships for recreation, and reduce red tape so we can focus on achieving the outcomes Albertans expect.
– Submitted by Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon