What we heard: getting down to SSRP specifics in Edmonton

SSRP banner

This month, we’re in 21 communities talking to Albertans about the draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan – a long-term land use plan for the region. These summaries, posted the day following each session, try to capture the main themes expressed during each session – which weren’t necessarily agreed upon by everyone.

This week kicked off with great discussions in Edmonton. 34 people, including reps from the Alberta Hiking Association and the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, turned out to share their visions for the future of the South Saskatchewan region.

23 stakeholders turned out to share their views. They included the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, the Agri-Environmental Partnership, the Alberta Fish and Game Association, Alberta Forest Products Association, Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Alberta Wilderness Association, Alberta WaterSmart, AUMA, CAPP, Canadian Institute of Forestry, and Parkland County.

Photo of the Edmonton skyline

Despite the ice and snow, a lively crowd turned out to chat SSRP in #YEG. Photo credit: public domain.

Here’s what we heard: 

The SSRP Vision and Proposed Goals:

  • Some believed the broad vision statement covered the region’s situation well; others thought it was vague – good start, but more detail needed
  • More info needed on how the plan will be applied – ‘the devil is in the details’
  • Better plan needed to address the impacts of growth on water management, prevent pollution of Alberta’s air, water, and land
  • Several attendees at the public session noted that property rights must be respected
  • Participants would like to see more enforcement on public lands
  • More info needed on consequences, action plans if outcomes are not achieved

Healthy economy: 

Photo of a coniferous forest in Alberta.

Forestry is an industry – but it can have benefits for the landscape too

  • More specific information needed on how the plan will address pressures of economic development
  • Forestry should be viewed as a landscape management tool, not merely as an industry
  • Government needs to pay more attention to economic potential of conservation areas
  • Evaluation of ecosystem services was missing from the plan
  • More info needed on the impacts of industrial development on species at risk

Biodiversity management framework:

  • More specifics and clarity needed in the plan
  • Plan needs to be more forward-looking – deal with not just present, but future change
  • Concern indicated about lack of connectivity among wildlife conservation areas
  • More emphasis needed on protecting and maintaining diverse habitats for species at risk
  • Concern among some attendees that even with the plan, conservation is taking a backseat to industry

Public land:

  • Support for use of economic incentives to encourage conservation
  • More education needed to achieve balance between development and conservation
  • Recreation:
    • Increased recreation opportunities could lead to flooding
    • There is not enough land set aside for recreation
    • More education is needed for off-highway vehicle users

Air and water quality:

  • Ensure protection of Alberta’s headwaters
  • Concern about the impacts of horizontal drilling and farming on water quality
  • Government should trace the source of contaminants in the water and try to deal with them before they enter the system.
  • Support for the use of quantitative research in air and water monitoring
    • Water monitoring is critical and must include tributaries as well as the main stems
  • Government needs to look at long-term impacts of climate change

Strengthening communities:

  • Need to acknowledge the work of municipalities to develop their own sustainability plans
  • Some stakeholders indicated that they are not sure why the process for First Nations is separate from the stakeholder process. They mentioned that their participation would improve understanding among stakeholders.

Sticky wall - Edmonton stakeholders 11122013

Intrigued? Remember – you can provide feedback on the draft plan through an online workbook or by attending one of the information sessions being held throughout November. Feedback on this blog or the session? Tweet us – @AENV_SRD.

Our next stops:

 

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