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Park legislation change raises concerns about use

Mar 09 2012

A section tucked away in an omnibus bill introduced in the legislature this week is raising fears that the government wants to reduce public consultation and competition on park uses.

The proposed legislation "eliminates the requirements for advertising an intention to issue a park-use permit or resource-use permit and obtaining the approval of a committee before issuing the permit," say explanatory notes on the bill.

Permits are required when private operators organize activities, from guided hikes to research, in parks.

Environment Minister Terry Lake was unavailable for an interview, but spokesman Suntanu Dalal said the changes do not completely remove the need for competition and consultation. "Public competition for a park-use permit is required when either the opportunity is exclusive or where an approved parks-management plan has set a limit on the number of opportunities available," he said.

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming said it raises questions about the government's intentions. "For a government that has talked about openness and transparency, this looks very sneaky." he said.

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