Wednesday, May 9, 2012
CPAWS holds SSRP workshop at Cowley Community Hall
Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Southern Alberta chapter held a workshop at the Cowley Community Centre on Thursday, May 3, in the hopes of engaging and assisting the public in the South South Saskatchewan Region Plan (SSRP) consultation process. It was one of a series of similar workshops CPAWS held throughout the region.
The SSRP is a Government of Alberta land-use planning initiative that is intended to oversee development, under the direction of an appointed Regional Advisory Council.
Adam Driedzic of The Environmental Law Centre (Alberta) Society (ELC) was the featured speaker at the event.
"We are here to engage local residents in the South Saskatchewan Regional Planning process," Driedzic said, after the event. "You know what, nobody knows what 'engaged' means. We are here to help local people participate in the regional planning commission. We give them a chance to meet with organizations that do this type of work outside the government, help them understand the law and policy, and help them communicate their views. This was jointly organized between the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the Law Center. I was really encouraged to see all the people who've come out. These people have a lot to offer. They people live in the area, they know what they'd like for the future, and they are exactly what the government needs to hear."
Accroding to Driedzic, the ELC is a charity, unattached to any government office. "We want to help local people by giving them a chance to meet with someone outside of government so they can discuss their hopes for the regional plan, specifically for the local area," he explained. "The South Saskatchewan region is huge, and we are in the headwaters. This area has very different issues, and is crucial to the whole region. It starts here."
"People are as much concerned with the legitimacy of the consultation process as they are with the outcome of the regional plan. What matters for a lot of people is that the consultation is meaningful. That's what we heard, over and over again."
Driedzic said "It is so important for people to participate in the planning process. 'Not if but how' is not going to fly with everyone. We've tried multiple use were everything goes in one area and it has troubles. People have the chance to say if they like this advice. The advice is basically for what we're doing already. The advice from the from the regional advisory council could let it be anything anywhere, all the time. The whole point of the land use framework is we've reached a tipping point, and we need to do things differently. Now we have advice that could still be 'let it be anything anywhere, all the time'. If the public would like a say, now is the time."
"The public should not be intimidated by legal jargon. Public opinion and and people's views are what really matters. Have a say for what you want for your area."
"I'm really am passionate about this," Driedzic continued. "I live in a small headwaters town. I live in Canmore. I have hopes and dreams, and we are facing these kind of issues. Up and down the eastern slopes we see the same kind of issues.
"I think what we're seeing in Alberta is a microcosm of the world. We cannot ignore the big environmental issues of the world anymore because we are feeling them here. Population explosion, the population is booming, the water crunch is on, and the land crunch is on. The big issues are coming home to roost."
Driedzic will be meeting with the Municipal District of Crowsnest on May 30. "We are going to potentially meet with some of the other municipal districts as well to talk about watershed protections, and land use planning issues. Watershed protections and land-use planning go hand in hand and those are two of the biggest issues in Southern Alberta."
Environmental Law Centre
Livingstone Landowners Group
Government of Alberta: South Saskatchewan Region