Bighorn consultations a charade, says Nixon

MLA Jason Nixon believes the consultations being done for Bighorn County are a sham

On Feb. 4, the NDP’s hastily organized and hopelessly uninformative Bighorn public information sessions came to an end in Sundre.

The meeting was well attended, as many folks braved frigid temperatures to try to get straight answers. However, as my friends and neighbours moved to the exits and out the doors at the Sundre Legion, their frustration was clear, as was the frustration of the participants at the sessions in Rocky Mountain House and elsewhere. Far too few specifics regarding this proposal are being shared with the public, and like the NDP’s tele-townhalls these information sessions simply do not allow people with concerns an opportunity to be heard.

My top priority over the past two months has been fighting to ensure folks in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre have a fair chance to provide input. I have used every tool at my disposal to do so, asking the Environment Minister directly in the legislature and through letters to meet with the community, talking to media, attending consultation meetings, and reaching out to local municipalities and our urban neighbours. Speaking up for local folks who feel marginalized is my job, and it is a duty I am proud to accept.

Through this entire process the Minister has taken every opportunity to sling mud, accusing me personally of opposing conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. What bothers me most, however, is the Minister’s decision to dismiss out of hand anyone who raises legitimate concerns about this consultation process. She went so far as to repeatedly lie to media in an effort to justify her move to cancel meetings.

The NDP’s decision to ram through their plan outside of the normal planning process, and to rush consultations just ahead of a provincial election, are transparently political in nature. In the face of such naked disrespect for local residents, I have no problem standing up for our communities and calling out the NDP’s consultation for being a charade.

From the beginning, our Official Opposition has cautioned the government that getting this process right is vital, and we will not accept anything less than full, meaningful consultation for the folks who live here, work here, and enjoy nature here.

We do not accept the NDP’s sham consultation process. Should the government force approval of this plan prior to the provincial election our United Conservative Party stands ready to reverse that decision at our first opportunity, and return to the previously legislated North Saskatchewan Regional Planning process.

The Bighorn region doesn’t belong to Rachel Notley, Shannon Phillips, or the NDP. It belongs to Albertans, and Albertans deserve the opportunity to decide how we proceed with conservation efforts throughout the West Country.

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