Alberta government won't close or delist provincial parks


Alberta's provincial parks will remain open and maintain their current protection, the province announced on Tuesday, despite plans earlier this year to close or delist dozens of sites.

According to a government news release Tuesday, none of the 175 parks originally slated for potential closure or delisting will meet that fate. Instead, more than a dozen parks will be operated through partnerships with organizations and communities around Alberta. Those without a partnership will not be delisted. 

In February, the province announced a plan to save $5 million through fully or partially closing 20 parks or recreation areas, and delisting 164 sites in hopes that third parties could take over their management. If no third party manager could be found, the site would lose park status and revert to general Crown land.

The Alberta government published a list of Alberta Parks partnerships on Tuesday, but the list doesn't include all of the sites that were being considered for closure or partnership in the spring.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Tuesday that all parks will maintain their designation and protections in law, even if the province doesn't find another group to partner with for their management.

"The fact that a parks/public rec area listed under the 2020 optimization plan has not secured a partnership does not mean it will close," Nixon posted on Twitter Tuesday.

"All current parks will remain parks. All will remain protected and accessible to Albertans. Period."

The province announced its secured or maintained partnerships for 170 parks and public recreation area sites, but it isn't clear how many are new partnerships and how many sites the province is still seeking partners to manage. 

Partner organizations may operate local campgrounds and day-use areas, the province said. The groups partnering with the province to keep these parks open include Indigenous communities like the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement, municipal organizations like the Special Areas Board and non-profit groups like Nordiq Alberta.

Tuesday's announcement gave no further details about how the parks partnerships will work.

But on Wednesday, a statement issued by Nixon's office said Albertans would see few changes to day-to-day operations and facilities beyond prospective site upgrades.

The statement added that the parks department will still oversee management of these sites as past governments have done in similar parks partnerships.