Environment Minister Jason Nixon announced a bill this week that he says if passed, would improve existing designated trails along with other paths on public lands within Alberta.
“The Trails Act will help modernize Alberta’s trail system and make trails safer by ensuring they are managed properly and are more enjoyable to use and are environmentally sustainable,” Nixon said.
According to the province, the act would allow for improved trail planning, strengthen the enforcement of environmental protocols and create clearer direction on when and where off-highway vehicles can be used.
Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad president Gary Clark says the changes are something the group has been requesting for 18 years.
“It’s taken a long time to come into play, but at the same time the government wants to get it right and we want to get it right as well, so we fully support it,” Clark said.
But while the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) also feels an update is needed, there is concern the proposed bill doesn’t have enough detail.
Becky Best-Bertwhistle, conservation engagement co-ordinator for CPAWS’ southern Alberta chapter, says the government is putting the cart before the horse.
“In the act, they say any trail plans developed under the act have to adhere to bigger land use management plans,” Best-Bertwhistle said.
“Unfortunately, for the majority of the province, those plans haven’t been completed or even started in some places.”
Clark believes the new legislation would build on the existing designated trail system and improve infrastructure and conservation efforts in the Crowsnest Pass.
“We’re simply taking a next step forward and making sure we can safely maintain these trails,” Clark said.
“(It’s) making trails safer, better for the environment, protecting the headwaters of the Oldman River.”
Alberta’s trail legislation was last updated in 1979.