More on Alberta’s Plan for Parks

OHV damage in Kananaskis CountryHere we go again! It took three studies and five or six years to convince the Klein government that Albertans didn’t want more infrastructure development in Kananaskis Country. How long is it going to take to convince Ed Stelmach that Albertans don’t want more off-highway trails and infrastructure in Alberta’s Parks, Protected Areas and other public lands. 

A recent Praxis study of park users found that providing more OHV facilities was very low on the list of priorities of those surveyed. “Key Findings” in the executive summary state: “A number of areas were considered as low or non-priorities. The area of lowest priority is infrastructure and land to support off-highway vehicle use …”

In Alberta’s Plan for Parks under Evolving Visitor Needs is says: “… For example, Albertans tell us they need campgrounds that accommodate large trailers,  facilities that minimize physical, social and financial barriers to participation and access to designated trails for off-highway vehicles.

Minister Ady in a letter (almost certainly drafted by bureaucrats) confirms that the government has already made up its mind to capitulate to the strong lobby by equipment manufacturers and retailers. She says: “There is a growing demand for motorized recreation opportunities in Alberta [contrary to the Praxis study] and therefore the need to formalize motorized recreation trails is a priority for the Government of Alberta. My ministry is working closely with colleagues from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development to determine where motorized recreation opportunities are best provided on public lands. My ministry’s Parks Division is also looking at how motorized recreation will be addressed in parks. It will identify locations for new campgrounds and staging areas that will be constructed to specifically address the needs of motorized recreation. These staging areas will provide access points to designated trails networks on both public land and in some parks, in keeping with classification restrictions.”   [my emphasis]

The problem is that we still have the same bunch of arrogant bureaucrats in Edmonton who cherry-pick the parts of a study they agree with and reject findings that interfere with their pre-conceived plans.  So much for “evidence-based decision making” touted in the Plan for Parks.

It is totally unreasonable that a minority of users are allowed to cause such severe environmental  damage to  public lands owned by all Albertans. They should take their activity to private facilities sponsored by manufacturers and dealers in the same way as stock car drivers go to a race track.

We need to be particularly vigilant for Kananaskis Country as a result of a recent announcement by Stephen Harper about infrastructure funding for trail development as part of his economic stimulus package. It is noticeable that two of the three supporters of the project are Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations and the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council!

In and adjacent to Kananaskis Country we have more than our fair share of land that is being trashed by off-highway vehicles. Enough is enough Minister Ady.

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8 comments… add one
  • Robert Sep 11, 2010, 4:35 pm

    All I have to say is, if we just keep closing areas in the name of conservation, we all lose. This pushes ohv users onto less and less land increasing the impact, and keeping people out of the land we ALL own as Albertans. Soon I guess we’ll all just sit in our houses and watch David Suzuki wander through OUR land and tell us about it. You may be fine to sit inside, you may also be fine just tromping up the same boring, sign infested Banff trail as you elbow your way through the weekend crowd to see a spectacle where the rocks around are worn smooth from millions of running shoes. But there are those of us who think differently and want to enjoy the land and “make our own trail” in life. Instead of refusing to see both sides, we must learn to coexist… or we will all lose out.

  • Adrian Sep 3, 2009, 1:49 pm

    If you were to poll all the campgrounds available in Alberta, and look to see how many support OHV you would be surpised how little amount of OHV campgrounds are out there. If you dont want to be around around OHV, then you have more options than OHV users do and will ever have. So be happy about it and camp somewhere else then.

    There is enough Alberta land to keep everyone happy.

  • Graham Aug 26, 2009, 9:05 pm

    Sounds your minds were made up long ago.

    I wonder if any one of you has been to an OHV area? The province has very few regions and none are prime “hiker” territory or in environmentally sensitive regions so what’s all the fuss about?

    Grant it, there are some dummies in 4×4’s doing damage but the conservation officers have clamped down on them. Most people on bikes and quads stick to trails and observe the same rules as hikers and cyclists.

    IMHO there’s far more damage being done by stupid tourists in the parks unintentionally baiting bears that then need to be shot, overusing and visiting truly senstive nature areas and wildlife habitat.

  • Rick May 9, 2009, 2:33 pm

    We’d better get clear about one thing when it comes to OHV’s: money makes the decisions in this province. Whether it’s the Tar Sands, health care, or protecting wildlands, those with the dough will not only have the government’s ear, they will have its acquiescence.

    This is a particularly crucial matter when it comes to OHV’s (snowmobiles, quads, dirt bikes, and the like): given our western economic structure, built as it is on consumption and waste, there can be no enterprise which can expect to survive, much less thrive, if it does not expand. This places special burdens on enterprises that produce and sell stuff that has a long-haul through-put, that is, stuff that does not quickly wear out (like food or clothes) or become obsolescent (like computers and software). So what do you do if most people who buy your stuff only do so once, which generally is the case with OHV’s, in order to keep selling your product?

    You must, absolutely must, expand your user base; in the case of OHV’s that means finding ways to grow the number of people who own, use, and ‘enjoy’ riding around on these contraptions. And that means two things: 1. Establishing and helping to fund OHV clubs with aggressive membership growth; 2. Establishing OHV use areas close to wherever it is that people who own OHV’s live and permitting a variety of use-areas to keep the OHV owner’s interested and involved in this activity.

    The OHV clubs are always well-funded, either directly or indirectly through members who are paid to lobby government. Who’s doing the paying? The manufacturers, of course — if you look at the amazing number of OHV models offered by Honda alone, you’ll realize that these companies have not only a huge investment in OHV use and in expansion of use-terrain, they also have very deep pockets. These clubs and their lobbyists are quite capable of and willing to use their influence to get MLA’s to support legislation and regulation that is favourable to expanding both legitimate and illegitimate OHV trails.

    Once again, as with so many matters, those of us who want to protect and preserve have only the strength of our convictions, our aesthetic experience, and our righteous indignation to influence legislators, while the OHV folks have piles of money. Is this a fair fight? Yeah, right.

  • Corinne May 3, 2009, 11:02 pm

    If we are serious about curtaining CO2 emissions, then this is a great place to start. These off road vehicles are noisy and environmentally damaging. These people would be far better learning to commune with nature on footpaths or bicycle.

  • Paula Apr 13, 2009, 1:20 pm

    I’ve written Ms Ady and others in the conservative regime, expressing my dismay at this blatant disregard for democracy, not to mention the environment and our wildlife. Hope others reading this will do the same.

  • sue lawrence Apr 9, 2009, 8:49 pm

    No way,there is WAY too much damage done to the environment by recreational vehicles. And the noise is also an horrendous intrusion to many people’s quiet time out doors. We cannot tolerate this manipulation of the rules yet again and I agree that if OHV users must rev. up there machines go build a place far away from the Parks.

  • Louise Guy Apr 8, 2009, 11:54 am

    I am appalled at the revelation of the plan to extend the facilities for the use of recreational motorised vehicles in the Provincial Parks. Already there is too much. Anyone who has smelt the emissions, heard the noise, and seen the damage done to the earth by these machines must be utterly dismayed.

    I very sincerely hope that this will be stopped before it is too late.

    Louise Guy

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