Canada/Alberta acquires decision-making power over the province's urban national parks

Published on 22/04/2024 | La rédaction


A bill giving the Alberta government more power over decisions concerning the province's urban national parks passed the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Bill 204 is an amendment to the Municipal Governance Act. It was first introduced last November. It stipulates that the province may prescribe the conditions under which a municipal council may negotiate a national urban park project.

Leduc-Beaumont MP Brandon Lunty introduced the bill after learning of the City of Edmonton's decision to consider the creation of a national urban park in the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

When we saw that this process was underway with the City of Edmonton, I became interested in what the province's role might be," explained Lunty in an interview on Edmonton AM on Thursday.

It turned out that there wasn't really a formal or codified way for the province to get involved, so that was the gap we sought to fill.

In 2021, the federal government launched the National Urban Parks program to create parks in urban centers. In 2022, the City of Edmonton and Parks Canada entered into a formal agreement to study the possibility of creating a national urban park in the river valley, according to a city report.

This bill simply ensures that the province will have a role to play, that it will be involved in these conversations, and that Cabinet will have the opportunity to set conditions, Lunty said.

The bill stipulates that any agreement entered into by the City with the federal government will be invalid if it does not respect the conditions set by the province. Any by-law passed by council would also be invalid if it failed to meet the conditions.

Mr. Lunty added that he would like to participate in discussions on conservation, recreation and development.

During the third reading in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. LuntyLunty said that a hostile federal government and anonymous bureaucrats in Ottawa, most of whom have never set foot in our beautiful province, don't have our best interests at heart.They are trying to dictate conditions directly to our municipalities, without the province having a voice on behalf of all Albertans.

In a written statement to CBC, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi responded that the City will never cede control of our beloved river valley to any other level of government, federal or provincial.

Like Bill 18, this bill is another example of the province creating additional bureaucracy and impeding the City of Edmonton's work with other levels of government and community stakeholders," he said.

Bill 18 would give the province the power to approve any agreement between the federal government and a municipality, school board, university or other provincial organization in Alberta.

Mr. Lunty countered that his bill is not about taking control.

I would say that we value our partnership with Edmonton and with all municipalities, and we will certainly continue to welcome ongoing discussions with Edmonton or any other municipality that is considering talking to the federal government about a national urban park," he says.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) voiced its opposition to the bill last December, shortly after it was introduced. CPAWS wondered why the province was standing in the way of the park creation process.

Albertans have made it clear that they love parks and want more of them, not less," notes Kecia Kerr, CPAWS Executive Director for Northern Alberta.

Anne Stevenson, Councillor for O-day'min Ward, said the council is ready to work with the province and keep them informed.

However, she is curious to know what concerns the provincial government would like to address regarding national urban centers.

I hope we'll have more information about what this law is about and how we see it being applied in the future," she says.


Did you like this article? Share it ...


Leave a comment

Your comment will be published after validation.