Good news on parks

It looks as if the provincial rec areas at three lakes in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River will be left alone by the provincial government. For now.

An announcement from Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon just before Christmas at least gives that impression. Nixon’s release suggests a successful conclusion to a program of improving the system.

Others are calling it a great victory thanks to stiff opposition to what it saw as a government plan to close or privatize parks. Somewhere in the middle of the two positions is the actual case; finding out exactly what it is may not be worth the effort.

The bottom line appears to be that provincial rec areas aren’t going to revert to un-maintained Crown land, which is what was feared. The government had been looking for ‘partnerships’ in the operating of dozens of parks and rec areas. The three in the M.D. were on the list, but appear to be back to status quo, per the latest development.

Here’s what Cecile Fausak of Athabasca, one of the campaigners to preserve the status of those parks, had to say about it.

“What a good piece of news to conclude this tumultuous year! I’m so thankful to our group that mobilized voices to speak up, and kept up the pressure along with thousands of others until the government listened to the people’s desire to protect more areas not less, and keep them open and serviced for safe and healthy recreation opportunities.”

There’s no indication of the government backing down, whatsoever, in its Dec. 22 announcement. But it does say, “All sites will maintain their parks designations, regardless of whether they have confirmed an operational partnership. All sites will remain protected in law, and are accessible to Albertans for recreation and enjoyment.”

So….happy news for those who want things to stay the way they were. And another unsuccessful and rather clumsy effort to save money by a provincial government that is thrashing around for ways to get out of the red. How’s this for a prediction: other attempts in other areas will be made, and the opposition to them will be pretty much identical.

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