Thursday, October 20, 2011

Premier Redford makes good on her promise

16,000 acres of Alberta Crown grassland is safe. . . for now

The 16,000 acres of provincially-owned grassland that was put up for sale this fall in Alberta (see the "Potatogate" postings here and here) will not be sold. During the controversy that ensued, people opposed to the sale, in particular, the Alberta Wilderness Association, managed to secure a committment from Conservative Party leadership candidate, Alison Redford, to suspend the sale. Now that she is Premier of Alberta, Redford seems to be following through on her promises. Here is a news release quietly issued yesterday by Alberta's "Sustainable Resource Development" ministry.

It mentions "impact on water and on the ranching community," and says that concerns about "public consultation and water use and availability" were the reasons the RFP was cancelled. Not surprisingly, no mention of endangered species or important habitat.

A victory, but as we've seen with this piece of land, the pressure to plough it under does not go away. Once Alberta completes its land use planning process for the South Saskatchewan River Basin (the South Saskatchewan Land-Use Framework), the government may consider selling this parcel and others like it. And the legislative mechanism for arbitrary decisions to sell Crown land remains in place.

Here is a Winnipeg Free Press report of the cancellation, with some words from Nigel Douglas, spokesman for the AWA.

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