Over the next month, we’ll be in 21 communities across Alberta talking about the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan. The purpose of this first round of consultations is to hear from people who live and work in the region about their vision for the area and their thoughts on the draft Terms of Reference for the plan. You can see the summaries for all communities here.
On Tuesday, members of the Banff community came out to share their views on the future of the North Saskatchewan region and their vision for their community.13 attendees came out, including representatives from Bighorn County, the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Alberta Strategic Tourism Council, the Bow River Basin Council, and Canadian Natural Resources Limited.
Once again, recreation was a hot topic, but we also head many other interesting discussions – including several comments about Banff’s inclusion in the North Saskatchewan region.
Here’s what we heard:
VISION AND OUTCOMES
- Vision sounds nice, but is too general and “fuzzy”
- Parts of this vision are indistinguishable from the LARP and SSRP vision statements
- Strategic directions should be more balanced with supporting vision statements
- Trade-offs will be needed to achieve outcomes – who will determine whether these are met?
- More emphasis needed on evaluation and measurement – these tools will be critical to achieving outcomes
- This is a long term process – are we equipping future generations with necessary knowledge about regional planning?
- Some attendees think that a 50-year plan is too long
- Support for Aboriginal involvement in developing the plan
- Dividing province into regions is counter-productive from the standpoint of cumulative effects management
Thoughts about Banff’s inclusion in the region:
- Clarification needed about who made the decision about Banff’s placement in this plan
- The North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan regions are fundamentally linked, particularly when it comes to water supply and flood control issues, as well as airshed and watershed management
- These concerns were raised before – is the government even considering public input?
- How will the plan handle the placement of Banff National Park?
- There is nothing in the plan about clean energy development
- Loss of agricultural land is a concern. Better rules about easements and compensation for landowners would slow that loss.
- Need to emphasize the value of agriculture – food security is vital
- Would like the topic of recreation to be separate from tourism in this section to ensure it is appropriately addressed
- More emphasis needed on the idea of sustainable growth
- The North Saskatchewan region is a development hub – infrastructure development must adequately address future growth
- Partner with landowners to develop sustainable tourism opportunities
HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- Decisions must be science-based – concern that there is not enough baseline data for good decision-making
- Emphasis on holistic decision-making – need to manage our air, water, land as a whole
- A clean air strategy is needed for this region
- How will the plan address and regulate non-point pollution sources?
- How will the region’s biodiversity management framework address species at risk holistically?
- Suite of tools needed to support different biological outcomes
- Support for government promotion of private, voluntary stewardship
- Clarification needed on the management intent for proposed conservation areas
- More public education on the environment is essential. Off-highway vehicle abuse provides a powerful example of this.
- Opportunity for Banff to learn from the South Saskatchewan region’s watershed and airshed management
- Support for responsible shared use of the landscape as long as wildlife connectivity is maintained
PEOPLE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES, CULTURE AND RECREATION
- Inclusion of Aboriginal peoples is essential
- Municipalities expected to fund many services – limited municipal tax revenues
- Province has many too many planning decisions on Crown land without consulting municipalities
- Population will continue to rise and we can’t build infrastructure fast enough – “we will always be playing catch-up”
- Inequality is a major concern for Alberta – why is the plan silent on this issue?
- Access management plans are needed for industry
Thoughts about recreation:
- Need to develop a framework on recreation for the entire province
- Alberta’s population is now more than four million people, but province has not built any public projects for recreation since Kananaskis
- Off-highway vehicle use needs to be controlled to protect biodiversity – more enforcement is needed
- We will never be able to supply every demand (e.g. water-based recreation)