I just returned from a hike at Heart Creek with the family. Although there is never a downside to spending time with your family in nature, there were issues The parking lot was jammed packed, the parking lot was an ice rink and there were people every few minutes. I heard myself say, ‘and its only getting started’, referring to the congestion.
I then thought of the budget reductions in our parks staff. Reductions is not a fair description; catastrophic is more appropriate. And these reductions come at a time where Albertan’s use of the outdoors was and will be at an all time high.
Governments rationale for these cuts is because of the billions of dollars of debt it is running. I agree that we must do what we can to limit the financial destitution caused by the Covid pandemic, but we cannot lose sight of reality. Our new financial reality is that dept will be a reality for some time yet; unless you commit economic suicide from overly aggressive cuts which Mr. Kenney has already hinted at calling for a ‘financial reckoning’.
Of course the ‘bottom line’ is not helped when you lose over a billion dollars by spending taxpayer dollars in a failed pipeline gamble or lose billions of dollars of pension funds or waste millions of dollars on the failed war room experiment … there are many more examples.
But what about the approx. 6 billion, and counting, that the government has given to corporations by reducing the corporate tax rate. I would support this strategy if it worked but its not. A person would have to be truly committed to the UCP cause not to see the reality that businesses of all sizes are leaving Alberta, not coming to AB, even with one of the lowest tax rates in Canada or the US. This ‘encouragement’ as Guthri calls it is not balanced with the reality of having a crippling debt load.
This government has already attacked our provincial parks by trying to private parks them but backtracked when the public said ‘no thanks’. I now question if they really did back track or if gutting Parks budgets is not just a renewed attack from another direction.
Is the government setting the parks up for failure on purpose? With reduced enforcement and overcrowding there will be damage to our parks, poaching will increase, and tempers will fray. I have no doubt that people will be willing to pay for a clean, safe and well-run private campground. If you starve the public system long enough people will ask for this option vs. holding the government accountable for letting our parks fall into disrepair in the first place!
Our parks should be available for everyone and represents a social obligation by the government. It is misleading to think you cannot protect the environment while being fiscally responsible. It comforts me that Mr. Peter Lougheed also agreed with me, even if this government does not.
As always, I would make these same comments for any government that acted this way.