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Why was the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan amended in 2018?

 

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan was amended, effective May 31, 2018, to reflect:

  • the creation of the Livingstone and Porcupine Hills Public Land Use Zones,
  • the regulation of motorized access limits through the implementation of the Porcupine Hills -Livingstone Land Footprint Management Plan, and
  • the implementation of the Porcupine Hills – Livingstone Recreation Plan.

For more information on the Public Land Use Zones or Management Plans, please visit the Alberta Environment and Parks website.

 

For the Alberta Environment and Parks news release and a list of related documents, click here.

 

The plan was also amended to update any references to Government of Alberta Ministry names and to correct clerical errors.

 

2018 Amendments to the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan

 

Purpose

Rationale

 

 

Facilitate the implementation of the Porcupine Hills - Livingstone Land Footprint Management Plan (LFMP)

Following the designation of the Castle Provincial and Wildland parks in 2017, the need for enhanced land use management on public lands surrounding the Castle parks arose. This is a result of the three-year phase-out of Off-Highway Vehicle use in the Castle Parks, which will likely displace motorized recreation users to the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills public land.

 

Public land use management needs in the region will be addressed through the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills LFMP, which will be established as a sub-regional plan under the SSRP and include legally-binding regulatory details for management thresholds on motorized access. The regulatory amendments to the SSRP will ensure that the limits are mandatory, monitored and reported on to maintain transparency and trust with stakeholders.

 

Update Ministry name references

These changes update references to specific Ministries and instead speak to the function of the ministry responsible, to avoid future amendments each time a Ministry’s name changes.

 

Clerical Errors

These changes address errors printed in previous versions of the plan, including terms found in the amended SSRP referring to Pekisko Heritage Rangeland, correcting layer colors on SSRP Maps and addressing grammatical mistakes in the plan.

 

 

 


Why was the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) Amended in 2017? 

 

In the fall of 2015, the Government of Alberta announced its intent to enhance protection of the Castle area, and invited Albertans to comment on the proposal from September 4 to October 5, 2015. Based on what was heard during consultation, the Government of Alberta made the decision to establish the Castle Provincial Park and expand the Castle Wildland Provincial Park in the Castle area. The Orders-in-Council to officially establish the new parks under the authority of the Provincial Parks Act were approved on January 20, 2017. Both of the Castle parks are located within the South Saskatchewan regional planning area of Alberta, which is currently governed under the SSRP.

 

The SSRP establishes a long-term vision for the South Saskatchewan Region and aligns provincial policies at the regional level to balance Alberta's economic, environmental and social goals. The regional plan also includes strategies for responsible energy development, sustainable farming and ranching, recreation, forest management, and nature-based tourism.

 

Prior to the approval of the Orders-in-Council, the Castle Wildland Provincial Park was managed under the SSRP (enabled through the Alberta Land Stewardship Act). To facilitate the establishment of the new Castle parks under the Provincial Parks Act, a series of amendments were required to the SSRP.

 

Pekisko Heritage Rangeland

 

Advisory Information Bulletin 2017-02 issued in March 2017 clarifies terms found in the amended SSRP referring to Pekisko Heritage Rangeland. To align with the Order in Council 020/2017, any reference made to the Pekisko Heritage Rangeland should be read to mean Conservation Area "H." 

 

Castle Amendments 

 

The Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park will be managed as world-class protected places, employing high standards in conservation, respecting Indigenous rights, and providing sites and facilities for exceptional recreational experiences and tourism opportunities.

 

This management vision will be achieved through the development and use of:

  • Thresholds to inform type and volume of human activities
  • Measurable and achievable goals
  • Evidence-based decision-making
  • First Nations traditional land use and ecological knowledge
  • Cooperative Management with First Nations
  • Collaborative approaches to problem solving
  • Priorities for implementation and development of specific strategies.

 

All activities and land uses in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park must be consistent with the Alberta Parks legislation and regulation(s) as well as the direction that has been set out in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.  The Plan for Parks also provides strategic policy direction regarding management with the protected areas system.

 

The Government of Alberta continues to respect private property rights and freehold minerals (petroleum and natural gas, coal, metallic and industrial minerals, other freehold minerals) are exempt from the restrictions. Exploration and development of resources via drilling or mining would be permitted subject to normal regulatory approval processes. As with other permitted land uses within parks, appropriate legislation will be applied to ensure that these developments can be accommodated, while still being compatible with longer term parks management objectives.

 

 

Activity

Castle Provincial Park

Castle Wildland Provincial Park

Commercial Forestry

No

No

Coal and Metallic and Industrial Mineral Extraction of Crown owned resources

No

No

Existing Petroleum and Natural Gas Commitments

Yes

Yes

New Petroleum and Natural Gas

Yes, but with no new surface access

Yes, but with no new surface access

Exploration and Development of Freehold (Privately Owned) Minerals

Yes

Yes

Existing Sand and Gravel

Yes

Yes

New Sand and Gravel

No

No

Existing grazing

Yes

Yes

New grazing

Yes, Subject to grazing suitability assessment

Yes, Subject to grazing suitability assessment

 

Analysis of environmental data, reports and published science (including research related to biodiversity, critical habitats, linear thresholds, species at risk, riparian areas, erosion and noise disturbance potential) confirms that recreational off-highway vehicle (OHV) use at current or substantially reduced levels is incompatible with conservation goals of the parks. OHV use is also incompatible with many other recreational activities in parks such hiking, equestrian use, fishing, cross-country skiing etc. OHV recreation use will be transitioned out of the Castle parks over a five-year period. A quality and environmentally responsible OHV recreation trail network is being considered on adjacent vacant public lands through recreation management planning.

 

The Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park have high levels of biodiversity, important headwaters that are highly susceptible to damage and critical habitat for species at risk, including genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout (a species that has a federal critical habitat order). To protect these ecosystems, landscapes and water resources, recreational off-highway vehicle use will not be permitted in the Castle Provincial Park or Castle Wildland Provincial Park.

 

Following further activity-specific analysis, some limited opportunity for winter snowmobile use may be considered in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park.

 

For further information about the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park, visit the Alberta Environment and Parks website at www.aep.alberta.ca or www.albertaparks.ca.

 

Amendments Unrelated to Castle Parks 

 

Non-Castle amendments were also made to the SSRP to address oversights or administrative issues. They are outlined below:

  

Inclusion of a First Nations Treaty Land Entitlement Statement

The statement clarifies potential discrepancies between regional planning and any outstanding claims for additional reserve land under the Treaty and Entitlement Process.

Inclusion of a public safety clause

The clause allows the Minister responsible for the Provincial Parks Act to construct and maintain an access road within a wildland provincial park in the South Saskatchewan Region if it is in the interest of public safety.

Updated boundaries for the Pekisko Heritage Rangeland

The changes to the Pekisko Heritage Rangeland boundary will reduce the area by 57 hectares. The updated boundaries reduce challenges for land managers within the boundaries, allow for consistent rangeland management across the area and provide greater understanding to managers and the general public of the rangeland boundaries.

Including a section on public land use policies for municipalities

The section is included in the Municipal Government Act and was intended to be in the SSRP, but was unfortunately removed due a formatting error during the inaugural publication of the regional plan.

 

The section sets out expectations for municipalities regarding non-renewable resources to ensure risks and impacts to health, safety and property will be minimized, while also ensuring non-renewable resources are accessible for development.

Remove references to the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency

As of April 2016, responsibility for monitoring, evaluation and reporting were incorporated into Alberta Environment and Parks. This was reflected in the SSRP.

Ministry name update for Alberta Environment and Parks

The Ministry name for Alberta Environment and Parks was updated throughout the plan.

 

SSRP amended in 2017 replaces the previous SSRP plan (found in Publications and Forms) effective on September 1, 2014.