The issues manager for Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Nikki Booth, stated that the online petition on www.avaaz.org (Prevent the LOSS of Recreational OHV Land use in Southern Alberta) was premature and encourages Albertans to wait until the next draft proposal.
The facts are that Albertans don't even know what the South Saskatchewan regional plan is and what it means for them. The final draft is being made based on a small group of Albertans and special-interest groups. Imagine how many online workbooks that would have been done and the amount of people attending these meetings there would have been if only there was transparency in this plan and it was clearly presented to Albertans. This draft was done on information that was not brought to Albertans' attention for the last two years because of its naming. Public input has been closed on the second phase of the South Saskatchewan's Regional Plan and it is now being put into action for its third and final phase.
We are acting now because we want our voices heard before the third phase. Albertans all want sustainability but we are not for closures. Access management is having user fees to enable building and managing current and new OHV trails and having funding from users it will provide policing and enforce rules and laws. The current plan is too broad and is about protected and possible protected areas and is not realistic. If an area needs to be monitored, protect it by re-routing and implementing new trails; we need to expand our areas and make it so it is less of an impact.
We have seen these closures before and have seen what happens when you don't get involved. The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan was in my opinion not transparent and did not reach all Albertans. We have accumulated over 5,000 signings on this petition in less than a week and have raised awareness all over southern Alberta. This petition was all done with no tax dollars and tell me how much was spent on SSRP plan?
In closing, this petition was and is about awareness and the prevention of the loss of recreational OHV land use in southern Alberta. This is not premature, and we need to give our input now, before they waste more energy and tax dollars producing an unrealistic draft that we will not accept.
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