Hundreds came out to the Alberta government’s information session on its controversial Bighorn Country parks proposal Sunday at Westerner Park. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Bighorn provincial parks session held in Red Deer

Hundreds came out to Westerner Park’s Harvest Centre Sunday afternoon

A three-hour information session on the Alberta government’s controversial proposed Bighorn Country parks took place in Red Deer Sunday afternoon.

The Harvest Centre at Westerner Park was set up to provide information, including sections on the new Wildland Provincial Park, new, expanded or amended parks, recreations areas and public land-use zones.

Officials listened to the public’s questions and concerns while notetakers recorded what was said.

Rick Blackwood, an assistant deputy minister for Alberta Environment and Parks, said the information sessions are not meant to ‘sell anything to the public. The aim is to show the public what’s involved with the proposal and get feedback, he said.

“What we are talking about today is simply a proposal,” he said.

“We will be taking all of the information we hear from these sessions, all of the notetakers comments, even all of the personal interactions that we’ve had, and feeding it back into our system and then when the survey session closes on the 15th, we’ll take all of that information and see how it aligns with what was proposed with part of the proposal.”

Blackwood encouraged people to take the online survey, which is available until Feb. 15th.

Significant opposition to the $40-million proposal has been mounting since it was announced last November. The plan would create four provincial parks, four provincial recreation areas and a new public land-use zone area.

More than 1,000 people came out to a rally opposing the proposal in Red Deer on Thursday. The protesters took issue with a range of topics related to the proposal.

READ MORE: More than 1000 rally against Bighorn proposal in Red Deer

Despite the opposition, certain environmental groups support the plan, saying it could protect endangered animals, such as the wolverine, grizzly bear and bull trout as well as headwaters in the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Hundreds filled the Harvest Centre Sunday to learn more about the proposal. Many still weren’t convinced it’s the best course of action for Bighorn Country.

Mike Doll from Airdrie said he believes the information session is ‘smoke and mirrors.’

“This government doesn’t give a damn what happens and what our comments are and what our feedback is as the public. They are going to jam it down our throats no matter what,” he said.

“This information session is just going through the motions. Had this been truthful and honest, the informational settings would have been a lot more public where we could access all the information way earlier than this. It’s too late at this point.”

Darcy Schatschmieder said he has been using Bighorn Country for the past 50 years to hunt, camp and use off-highway vehicles like the ATVs. He thinks the proposal is a bad idea.

“It can’t possibly work. They are basically forcing us to do what they want us to do and not giving us a vote,” he said.

“You do see people who abuse the area but there are a lot more people out there that clean up after those people and respect the area,” he continued.

“If the government is worried about that, maybe they should spend more money enforcing the laws out there. If they are going to waste $40-million, why not use it for something like that.”

But in a telephone town hall in mid-January, Minister Shannon Phillips, of Alberta Environment and Parks, said the proposal would not affect designated OHV (off-highway vehicles) trails in the provincial and wildland parks.

“Some of our $40 million proposed investment is to improve existing trails and support the local user groups that have been doing this work for decades without government support,” she explained.

READ MORE: Environment Minister clarifies misconceptions in Bighorn proposal

But Tom Hibbs from Red Deer said he has difficulty believing what the government says.

“They promise this and that but the record from down south is that they don’t do what they say, so how can you trust them is all I got to say.”

 

Just Posted

Motorcyclist seriously injured after hit on one-way road in Nisku

Leduc RCMP respond to vehicle versus motorcycle with serious injuries

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

EALT enhanced critical habitat on our lands by planting 263,000 native trees

Celebrating a Decade of Conserving Nature for our Communities

Chocolate chip cookies with a twist

Frozen cheesecake recipe quick and simple

Unsightly premises fees added to County of Wetaskiwin tax bill

Property owner cannot be located, so contractor cleaned yard

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Person airlifted to hospital after avalanche in Yoho National Park has died

The man was among a party of three involved in an avalanche Saturday afternoon

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Most Read