Lower Athabasca Region
Status: Regional plan is approved and remains in effect. Implementation underway. 10-Year Review underway.
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan sets strong environmental limits, conserves sensitive lands, provides certainty regarding land uses to industry, diversifies the economy and offers numerous recreational opportunities in the region.
The Alberta Land Stewardship Act requires the Land Use Secretariat to, at least once every 10 years, review each regional plan and report to the Stewardship Minister on its ongoing relevancy and effectiveness. The Land Use Secretariat announced commencement of the 10-year review of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan on August 26, 2022. For more information, visit the 10-Year Review page.
The Alberta Land Stewardship Act requires the Land Use Secretariat to, at least once every 5 years, appoint a committee to evaluate the objectives and audit the policies of regional plans to determine whether either or both are meeting the purposes of the act, and report the results to the Stewardship Minister. For more information, visit the 5-Year Evaluation page.
LARP Regional Planning
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan was approved by Cabinet on August 22, 2012. It became effective on September 1, 2012 after three years of planning and input from several thousand Albertans.
LARP Regional Advisory Council
LARP Regional Advisory Council (RAC) advice provided recommendations on economic growth, land conservation, air and water thresholds, and human development needs in the region.
Consultations with First Nations and Métis communities, stakeholders, municipalities and the public informed development of the plan.
Status: Reports Available
LARP sets the stage for robust growth, vibrant communities and a healthy environment within the region over the next 50 years. Reports help assess whether progress is being made toward achieving desired outcomes for the region.
Lower Athabasca Regional Plan
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2012) was approved on August 22, 2012. It became effective on September 1, 2012.
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) is a comprehensive, forward-thinking and legally binding roadmap that enhances the Alberta government's environmental management, addresses growth pressures and supports economic development. It is the first of seven regional plans committed to under Alberta's innovative Land-use Framework, which is unprecedented in Canada.
The regional plan considers the cumulative effects of all activities on air, water and biodiversity. It establishes new environmental frameworks with limits to protect air and surface water quality and increases the total conserved land within the region to more than two million hectares three times the size of Banff National Park.
LARP sets the stage for the next 50 years, concentrating on environmental, economic and social actions by:
- Immediately setting regional environmental limits for air and surface water quality and regional groundwater management framework with interim triggers;
- Establishing six new conservation areas, bringing the total conserved land in the region to two million hectares, or 22 percent of the region;
- Changing the Dillon River Conservation Area from a Public Land-use Zone to a Wildland Provincial Park and increasing the size by 27,245 hectares to 191,544 hectares, thus securing a larger tract of important caribou habitat;
- Addressing infrastructure challenges and new strategies to plan for urban development around Fort McMurray;
- Providing year-round tourism and recreational opportunities through the creation of nine new provincial recreation areas, which will have access to campsites, trails and boat docks;
- Committing to a regional trail system plan;
- Committing to the development of tailings management, biodiversity, and surface water quantity frameworks;
- Committing to engage and work with aboriginal communities on initiatives to incorporate traditional knowledge into environmental planning;
- Identifying opportunities to engage with aboriginal communities on initiatives that support tourism development;
- Providing certainty for industry development of the oil sands; and
- Supporting diversification of the regional economy - recognizes tourism and recreational opportunities, the potential for further responsible development of energy, minerals, coal, surface materials, forestry and agriculture.
- Economic potential of oil sands resource is optimized
- Region's economy is diversified
- Landscapes are managed to maintain ecosystem function and biodiversity
- Air and water are managed to support human and ecosystem needs
- Infrastructure development supports economic and population growth
- Quality of life of residents is enhanced through increased opportunities for recreation and active living
- Inclusion of aboriginal peoples in land-use planning
Maps and Shapefiles
New conservation and recreation/tourism areas identified in LARP are found in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan 2012-2022 Schedule G Map (2012). To view this map online, go to LARP Highlights. To download this map or any maps associated with the Lower Athabasca region or with the Regional Advisory Council's advice to government, refer to Maps and Shapefiles. LARP 2012-2022 Schedule G Conservation and Recreation Tourism Areas Shapefiles and other ESRI shapefiles are also available to support detailed spatial analysis and custom mapping.
Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Implementation
The Government of Alberta has completed the following environmental management initiatives under the regional plan:
Information letters, bulletins and related materials help guide implementation of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. Refer to Results Reporting for information on the progress made toward implementing strategies outlined in the plan and achieving desired outcomes for the region.
Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Request for Review
Section 19.2 of the Alberta Land Stewardship Act provides for parties who feel they are adversely affected by a Regional Plan to submit a request for review to the Land Use Secretariat. The purpose of the Request for Review process is to evaluate the applicants concerns and to make recommendations to the Stewardship Minister to address any valid issues arising. The Government of Alberta received six Requests for Review of LARP. The Stewardship Minister appointed a panel to consider these requests for review and provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta on whether each of the six applicants is directly and adversely affected by either a specific provision or provisions in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. In June 2015, the panel submitted their recommendations.