UCP Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr spoke to the Ponoka Chamber about the potential a new provincial government would provide to help support small business.File photo

MLA Ron Orr: Your parks will go on

Opinion

Despite what you may have heard, your parks will go on.

Albertans value and cherish their provincial parks. These precious public lands protect and preserve our rich natural beauty for people from across the province and the entire world to enjoy.

It should go without saying that Alberta’s government also cherishes these parks. That’s why we have invested $43 million this year alone in upgrading them. However, the NDP opposition and other special interest groups have waged a campaign of misinformation trying to convince Albertans that parks will be closed or sold off and developed.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Alberta’s parks will continue to be open and accessible for all to enjoy, including the J.J. Collett Natural Area and the Narrows Provincial Recreation Area within Lacombe-Ponoka. All sites remain fully protected and owned by Alberta Environment and Parks. No current sites will be developed for industry.

However, we are in a time of fiscal restraint and Albertans elected the UCP government to make difficult decisions. That means our government must find ways of saving money without too much disruption to service delivery.

When it comes to how Albertans enjoy parks, the answer lies in teamwork.

Unlike some who believe government should run every aspect of our parks, the UCP believes that grassroots organizations and Indigenous groups are just as capable, if not more, of helping to deliver park services as the government – and often at a much better value for taxpayers.

Over the next year, Alberta Environment and Parks will enter into new partnership agreements to help manage park services. These partnerships will be like the one recently announced with Nordiq Alberta – a non-profit organization – to ensure winter trails in Kananaskis Country are groomed for skiers.

Partnerships with upstanding organizations and community groups, such as the JJ Collett Natural Area Society board and volunteers, are crucial to preserving and caring for our provincial parks and has been done successfully since 1932.

Working with Indigenous groups will be particularly important in this effort. Indigenous peoples have been stewarding our land for thousands of years and understand how to protect and preserve it better than anyone. Alberta’s government looks forward to entering into more partnership agreements with Indigenous groups who can help manage the future of our parks system.

I want to assure the residents of Lacombe-Ponoka that your recreation opportunities will not be changing. Parks and public lands remain accessible for recreation and enjoyment. These partnerships are good news for Albertans that love their parks and the recreation opportunities they provide.

Our UCP caucus just launched My Parks Will Go On, a campaign to counter the misinformation and outright lies from the NDP and other groups about our plan for Alberta’s parks.

Despite the false and misleading information being spread by some, our parks will go on. Alberta’s parks belong to Albertans, and it’s going to stay that way.

READ MORE: De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

We encourage you to visit www.MyParksWillGoOn.ca to find out more information about how the government is protecting parks for all Albertans.

If you require further information on this or any issue, feel free to contact my constituency office at 403 782 7725 or by e-mail Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca.

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