Provincial Legislation:

The Proposed Natural Heritage Act
Legalizing the End of Wilderness


  • Submission to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NAFTA)
  • The full text of the Environmental Law Centre review and recommendations regarding Bill 15 can be obtained from the Centre by phoning 1-800-661-4238 or by contacting them by e-mail at
News Releases
  • March 26, 1999 Environmental Law Centre Reviews Proposed Natural Heritage Act

  •   "Bill 15 Could Allow Nearly Any Kind of Environmental Destruction" 
  • March 20, 1999 Public Rally to Protest Proposed law (Bill 15) That Will Allow Industrial Development in Alberta's Parks. 
  • December 9, 1998 Wilderness Organization Firmly Opposed to Dismantling Wilderness Areas


Bill 15: down, but not defeated

Tremendous public opposition to the proposed Natural Heritage Act in the form of letters, phone calls and petitions was a major reason the government did not pass Bill 15 in the spring sitting of the Legislature. 

However, there is a chance the government will try to pass it in the fall sitting. It is two steps away from becoming law; all that is needed is third reading followed by the proclamation of the bill.

There are three key problem areas with the proposed act.

  1. Reduced Protection. The Natural Heritage Act would replace three existing pieces of legislation. The Willmore Wilderness Park Act; the Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves and Natural Areas Act and the Provincial Parks Act. The new act would create new designations: Ecological Reserves, Provincial Parks, Wildland Parks, Heritage Rangelands and Recreation Areas.

  2. Wilderness Areas and Willmore Wilderness Park currently enjoy full protection from any human activities that interfere with the functioning of the natural ecosystem. Under the Natural Heritage Act, they would be accorded Wildland Park status, which could result in substantially less protection. There would be no assurance that they would not be opened up to activities such as hunting, trapping, off-road vehicle use, etc. As well, there would be no future option to preserve wilderness.

  3. Existing resource dispositions. The government has indicated it intends to honor all existing industrial dispositions that existed at the time of an area's designation as "protected." There is no evidence that the government is willing to negotiate with the leaseholders for the removal of such commitments. This means even though an area is designated as "protected," logging, oil and gas wells and their associated facilities and commercial tourism developments could still go ahead.
  4. Increased ministerial discretion. The proposed act gives the Minister much greater power in making decisions that affect protected areas. If this act becomes law, the Minister or environment department staff could override the protected status of any area to allow development, without having to proceed through the legislative process. In essence, a protected area would only be protected as long as some party did not want to use it for some kind of development.

What happened to 'honouring' the commitment to Albertans to have a network of protected areas?

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