Alberta working for better lives for people, wildlife following Budget 2017
March 17, 2017
EDMONTON — The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is optimistic that Alberta’s Budget 2017 will lead to investments in green infrastructure, making our highways and transportation corridors safer for people and wildlife while creating jobs and stimulating a green economic resurgence in the province.
“Budget 2017 will put more Albertans to work through necessary investments in our highways, bridges and public transit.” (Alberta Budget Address 2017)
“Wildlife overpasses, underpasses and other mitigation features make Alberta’s highways less of a barrier to wildlife, save lives and reduce insurance costs,” says Stephen Legault, program director with Y2Y.
“Wildlife bridges and other mitigation should be a key component of the province’s Capital Plan. This could be one of the ‘green shoots’ Finance Minister Ceci talks about as indicators of Alberta’s fiscal rebound.”
Legault says the province’s prior investment in wildlife fencing and other mitigation measures on Highway 3, as well as commitments to continue making Alberta’s highways safer for people and wildlife are encouraging signs.
He points to the commitment to ‘building green infrastructure to help protect the environment and address climate change,’ in the 2017-20 Strategic Plan accompanying the budget as a promising sign.
“Y2Y hopes to see specific announcements for wildlife crossing structures on Highway 1 in the Bow Valley and continued commitments to Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass in the near future,” he says. “Let’s consider diversifying investments in infrastructure jobs to include highway-wildlife mitigation. Pouring cement to make a wildlife overpass can create as many green jobs for Albertans as pouring a foundation.”
Legault says there are added benefits to overpasses, including those that link wildlife populations, helping them remain genetically diverse reducing the threat of local extinction.
A collaboration of community and conservation groups, including the Miistakis Institute, Road Watch in the Pass and the Western Transportation Institute have supported Alberta Transportation and Alberta Environment and Park’s recent work to make Hwy 3 safer for Bighorn Sheep near Crowsnest Lakes.
Y2Y recognizes a renewed commitment in the 2017 Alberta Environment and Parks business plan to work with the federal government towards meeting Canada’s international commitment to conserve least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas and inland waters through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based measures.
“Existing investments in protected areas such as the new Castle Parks help diversify our economy and lead to a healthier population through outdoor recreation. For Alberta and Canada to reach that 17 per cent milestone, protection has to be meaningful and ensure ecosystem conservation.”
In the coming year Legault wants to see Budget 2017’s Capital Plan translated into tangible on-the-ground projects.
“The province can be leaders in wildlife mitigation with an investment that puts Albertans to work, making life better for both people and wildlife. This would be a win-win-win for the province.”
For further comment:
Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program director for Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories 403-688-2964 | firstname.lastname@example.org