UCP land sale plan comes un­der fire

‘Large tracts of land are nec­es­sary for the sur­vival of fish, wildlife and bio­di­ver­sity’

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - CLARE CLANCY [email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/clare­clancy

ED­MON­TON Al­berta an­glers and hunters are slam­ming a UCP plan to sell off Crown land in the Peace Coun­try should the party win the 2019 elec­tion.

“Deeming the land iden­ti­fied as be­ing for sale as ‘un­pro­duc­tive’ and turn­ing it into ‘pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tural land’ should raise red flags for all Al­ber­tans as large tracts of land are nec­es­sary for the sur­vival of fish, wildlife and bio­di­ver­sity in gen­eral,” said a Wednes­day news re­lease from the Al­berta Fish and Game As­so­ci­a­tion (AFGA).

It’s the lat­est or­ga­ni­za­tion to crit­i­cize the plan first brought for­ward by UCP Leader Ja­son Ken­ney in Novem­ber. He said he’s con­sid­er­ing a land sell-off sim­i­lar to a pro­gram un­der for­mer pre­mier Ed Stel­mach.

The land at the heart of the pro­posal is in Macken­zie County. For­mer sales com­prised close to 120,000 acres in blocks span­ning across the county, from just north of Car­ca­jou and north­east to Wil­son Prairie, around the La Crete area.

Last week a group of Treaty 8 chiefs trav­elled to Ed­mon­ton to op­pose the pro­posal.

“It is govern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to stew­ard the land for all Al­ber­tans — an ac­tion that does not in­volve sell­ing it,” said AFGA pres­i­dent Doug But­ler in a state­ment.

OPI­OID COM­MIS­SION’S WORK FAR FROM OVER, SAYS MIN­IS­TER

A re­port re­leased Tues­day sug­gested Al­berta has en­tered a plateau phase in the opi­oid cri­sis with fewer deaths be­ing re­ported. But the prov­ince is still work­ing “on all fronts,” says Al­berta’s health min­is­ter.

“While a plateau is good news, the fact that two peo­ple a day on av­er­age are still dy­ing is cer­tainly dev­as­tat­ing,” Health Min­is­ter Sarah Hoff­man said at a Wednes­day news con­fer­ence.

Nearly 500 peo­ple died due to fen­tanyl over­doses in the first three quar­ters of 2018, said the provin­cial re­port. The lat­est data found there were 158 fen­tanyl-re­lated deaths in the third quar­ter end­ing Sept. 30. That’s down from the 169 and 167 deaths re­ported in the first and sec­ond quar­ters re­spec­tively.

The Min­is­ter’s Opi­oid Emer­gency Re­sponse Com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished in May 2017. In April, the prov­ince an­nounced the com­mis­sion’s work would be ex­tended by 18 months un­til Novem­ber 2019.

“I know that there are a num­ber of ini­tia­tives un­der­way,” Hoff­man said. “I doubt that a year from now we’ll be at the point where no­body has died of an opi­oid over­dose. I hope that we are, but this is … im­pact­ing all com­mu­ni­ties.

“I imag­ine that we’ll need to do more work in the months fol­low­ing (Novem­ber 2019).”

Sarah Hoff­man

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