Budget 2018 – Canadian Government’s $1.3 billon environmental investment

In the Canadian Government’s 2018 budget they announced a remarkable $1.3 billion for species protection and nature conservation. The details of where or how this money will be spent have yet to be revealed, but we are encouraged by this historic investment.

We urge the federal government to look at northwest Alberta as a place to invest these dollars for our threatened Woodland Caribou – through restoration efforts in our current provincial and national parks.

As municipal leaders in Alberta’s six northwestern municipalities and within our Northwest Species at Risk Committee, we have championed ideas on how to better protect our threatened Woodland Caribou while balancing our economic future.

We agree that protecting the caribou is important but so is safeguarding the industries that provide many of our working families a living.

That is why we deeply oppose the Alberta Government’s proposal that looks at a whopping 38% of our land mass for various caribou recovery measures and levels of land restriction. We know that it will hurt industries such as forestry and oil and gas – and others. It just doesn’t make sense when we already have 52,000 square kilometers of park space – that’s roughly the size of Nova Scotia!

Within that 38% of our landmass that the province is looking at, 1.6 million hectares have been proposed as “candidate areas” for severe restrictions of some kind – whether that’s through park space, conservation land or simply imposing even heavier restrictions. We believe this could greatly harm many of our working families and numerous supporting industries.

There are so many pro-active measures, specifically tailored to the caribou that could be used – and would in fact be more effective – as supported by our extensive research and report.

Creating further restricted areas could effectively sterilize any future development. With potentially $90 billion of resource revenue sitting below our feet it is irresponsible to take away opportunities from current and future generations.

That is why we are urging the federal government to use their recent environmental investment to support restoration of our current park space – and not simply carve out more in our region. We need to do better with what we already have.

Restoring our existing parks could help sustain many species – including the caribou. It just makes sense to make better use of the already 52,000 square kilometers of park space in our region – which would go a long way to help the caribou.

Especially in light of the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently warned that Wood Buffalo Park could be added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Why not focus federal dollars on this rather than more potential park space?

We hope that both levels of government will make good policy decisions and invest wisely so that our caribou will actually be effectively protected and our working families too.