Multi-Use policy in Kananaskis

click Land Use Index

The confusion caused by two branches of government working at cross purposes is troublesome. Sustainable Resource Development is facilitating industrial development that allows for clear-cuts, pipelines, roads, and heavy equipment in Kananaskis, while Community Development won't allow the 600 mountain bike racers in the TransRockies cycling event to pass through the area on one day of the year due to their impact on the environment. This has a direct negative impact on business in Bragg Creek, Black Diamond and Canmore. Other events face similar restrictions. Recreational use has a negative impact on the natural landscape, but industry is taking a greater toll. The multi-use policy in Kananaskis is not working. Industry is displacing people and wildlife.

Under the Forest Management Agreement between Sustainable Resource Development and Spray Lakes Sawmills, the primary use of the forest management area is “for establishing, growing, harvesting and removing timber.” The provincial government has transferred management of the Kananaskis forest to a logging company. The government needs to show that they represent our interest and reclaim control so that the people of Alberta have a say in how public lands are managed.

Land use is a controversial and complicated issue; one that is far beyond me to explain. All I know is that land use is at the heart of the problem, and good policy is the solution. Shelly Wilson addressed the issue in her Calgary Herald editorial comment, excerpted here. The Liberal opposition in Alberta produced a white paper on the topic. It doesn't address the particular problem in Kananaskis and doesn't deal with recreation and tourism very well, but it does provide an insight into the issue.

Toward an Alberta Land Strategy

A report prepared by the Alberta Liberal party in January, 2006

What is a land use plan?

A general land use plan designating lands for agriculture, forestry, housing, commerce, industry, recreation, aviation and public facilities. It should include population densities, building intensities and estimates of future population growth. The land use element shall provide for the protection of the quality and quantity of ground water used for public water supplies and provide guidance for corrective actions to mitigate discharges into public waterbodies.

While a multitude of stakeholders eagerly await the opportunity to help develop a comprehensive land use strategy, they all agree on one point.
This exercise will go absolutely nowhere without a strong commitment from the provincial government.

This commitment needs to be demonstrated in a variety of ways, they noted.

  • First of all, the province must show a willingness to get involved and define the issues that need to be addressed.

  • Following this, it needs to design a process to come up with the strategy — a transparent process that includes both key stakeholders and the general public.

  • Ultimately, the province will have to establish new governance structures to administer the strategy, along with a series of supporting land use plans, policies and programs.

  • It will have to develop new data-collection mechanisms which can disseminate information quickly and cheaply to groups and individuals.

  • Finally, the province will have to allocate significant resources to undertake the planning process, develop governance structures, collect and disseminate land use information and subsequently to support a raft of policies and programs that emerge.

  • All of this calls for government direction at the highest level.

  • “This needs to be a political initiative as opposed to an administrative one,’’ noted one association representative.

The entire report is available here: