Opinion: Albertans want the province to protect our natural spaces

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When you double, and then double again, the number of people seeking an opportunity to enjoy nature, and then allocate much of those wildlands to industrial development, you end up with conflict, overcrowding and misuse.

What is the minister and his government’s response? To close campgrounds and privatize others. Minister Nixon is like the retailer who complains that he can’t keep a popular product on the self because they are selling so well, and rather than ordering more, decides to stop stocking the merchandise.

The solution to this crisis is complex, but fundamentally the province could do three things. First, rather than gutting what we already have, invest in more protected areas. Alberta can and should protect as much of its native ecosystems as we have left, starting with the fragile and vital Eastern Slopes watersheds in the Bighorn, Livingstone, Kawaka and elsewhere. This would have the added bonus of helping Canada reach its international obligation to protect 17 per cent of our natural landscapes.

Second, we can reinvest in our existing parks. Despite the misinformed rhetoric of the UCP, parks are sound financial investments, yielding stable, long-term and lucrative jobs in surrounding communities, and attracting secondary investment from business who understand that the secret to enticing and retaining professionals is to ensure they have the amenities — nature — they seek for their families to enjoy.