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South Saskatchewan Region


 

 

Status: South Saskatchewan Regional Plan amended. It is effective February 16, 2017.  

 

 

 

SSRP Regional Planning

 

 

Status: Planning completed

 

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan was amended based on  Cabinet's approval of Orders-in-Council to establish the Castle Provincial Park and expand the Castle Wildland Provincial Park on January 20, 2017. It became effective on February 16, 2017.

  

 

 

 

SSRP Regional Advisory Council

 

 

Status: Advice Provided  

 

Advice to Government offered by the South Saskatchewan Regional Advisory Committee in 2011 recommended that a regional plan for southern Alberta focus on water supply, economic development and conservation needs. The Council's mandate is now fulfilled.

 

SSRP Consultation 

 

Status: Consultations Completed

 

Summaries of all consultation sessions as well as completed workbooks are now available. Go to SSRP Consultation to discover how Albertans contributed to South Saskatchewan's regional plan.

 

 

 

SSRP Outcomes  

 

Status: Plan Approved

 

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan is a strong, comprehensive and long-term vision for a busy and growing southern Alberta. Progress reports will capture changes over time as we work toward achieving desired regional objectives.

 

 

 

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

 

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 We 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.

 

 

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. 

    Compliance with the SSRP 

     

    Everyone must act in accordance with the SSRP amended in 2017.

     

    The amendment did not change nor introduce any new timing requirements regarding the filing of compliance declarations. Section 7 of the SSRP-Regulatory Details specifies that:

     

    • local government bodies must submit their compliance declaration by September 1, 2019
    • decision-making bodies were required to submit their compliance declaration by September 1, 2016.

     

    Advisory Interpretation Bulletin 2017-01 provides more information about complying with the SSRP.

     

     

    South Saskatchewan Regional Plan Maps and Shapefiles 

     

    SSRP contains several maps including a Schedule C: South Saskatchewan Regional Plan Map. This map is accompanied by complementary shapefiles intended to assist GIS specialists take a closer look at the boundaries of the established and expanded parks and areas. To access related PDF maps, refer to Maps and Shapefiles and select a category associated with the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. These maps are provided for reference purposes only.