Telephone town halls will be held by Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips to consult people on the Bighorn Country proposal.
Matt Dykstra, spokesperson for Alberta Environment and Parks, said in an email they are consulting all Albertans on the proposal because many Albertans are “deeply passionate” about the Bighorn area.
The Government of Alberta proposes a mix of parks and public lands in the Bighorn region to preserve natural landscapes while creating new opportunities for economic development, tourism and recreation in the region.
Dykstra added last week they chose, in consultation with government safety and security officials, and seeing concerning reports from Albertans, to cancel the upcoming public information session out of caution.
“We did this while also booking telephone town halls to continue providing information and answering questions from Albertans,” said Dykstra in the email. “This decision was based on the behaviour of a small minority of people, and it is clear that the vast majority of Albertans have participated respectfully.”
There will be three telephone town halls held around Alberta beginning in the Drayton Valley, Sundre and surrounding area on Jan. 15.
Red Deer and surrounding area’s telephone town hall will be on Jan. 16.
The final session will be held on Jan. 24 for Edmonton.
All telephone town halls will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Dial-in information will be made available shortly.
“We know how much in-person sessions mean to Albertans and we are currently working on rescheduling public engagements, once we’ve assessed and addressed safety concerns,” Dykstra said, adding they want to hear what residents have to say, but need to ensure the safety of all attendants.
“We are reevaluating our engagement plans and listening to Albertans, and will have more to say on public sessions soon,” continued Dykstra.
In the meantime, Albertans are encouraged to listen and participate in the telephone town halls.
The deadline for feedback has been extended to Feb. 15.
According to a press release, government engagement has already reached more than 30,000 people, municipalities, recreation groups, small businesses and industrial operators. Further information on the proposals and consultations can be found here: https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country.
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