Political scientist calls Alberta government’s change to parks plan a major policy defeat

An Alberta political science professor is calling the United Conservative government’s announcement on parks its first major policy defeat.

Duane Bratt of Calgary’s Mount Royal University says the announcement is the first time he’s seen the government back off an unpopular policy since coming into office.

Read more: Alberta won’t close any provincial parks, despite previous delisting plan

Environment Minister Jason Nixon said late Tuesday that no parks would be removed from the provincial list or lose any of the protections they currently enjoy.

Last spring, he said 184 parks would be fully or partly closed and those that the government couldn’t hand off to third-party managers would revert to general Crown land.

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Nixon said 170 parks have found partners, but he didn’t say how many of those are long-standing arrangements and how many are new.

Read more: Alberta wants to hand off management of 164 provincial parks to focus spending on ‘high-value areas’

Bratt says the government announcement doesn’t say who will be managing those parks, how they will be run or what limits will be placed on user fees.

He also says the government is refusing to acknowledge the original policy’s unpopularity.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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