Athabasca, January 29, 2010 Prepared for Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC) and Tawatinaw Watershed Stewards (TWS) By Janice Pitman
… conservation over the coming decades will require unprecedented cooperation and partnership among governments, private sector and non-government organizations, and individual citizens. Consequently, the greatest challenge we and other members of the conservation community face is the need to form new and interdependent relationships, sharing integrated capacities, building on common strengths, identifying and addressing weaknesses, and focusing our responses on shared goals and objectives. - US Fish and Wildlife Service, Rising to the Challenge, Strategic Plan for Responding to Accelerating Climate Change , September 2010
March 3, 2010 Public information session in Athabasca
Was to be attended by Alberta Transportation, Stantec Engineering staff and Golder Associates to respond to public inquiries: Alberta Transportation did not attend
Stantec engineer explains that bridge can be replaced where it is, but requires more expensive construction
Could not answer questions regarding cost of alternatives or realignment as Alberta transportation not in attendance
Summer, 2010 Alberta Transportation required by DFO and Environment Canada to broaden scope of submission to include environmental, social, and heritage impacts. Citizens request and expect public involvement at this point, which is not forthcoming.
Fall, 2010 Major repairs to bridge
Fall, 2010 DFO requires new design of Tawatinaw realignment from Alberta Transportation with meanders, as previous design does not fulfil requirement, new design expected spring 2011
Winter, 2011 Condition of bridge is of concern to people
How can a decision made by town council in 2001 to accept a plan that has changed many times since then still be binding,?
How will the proposed development improve traffic flow?
What about the impact of continued heavy truck traffic in the downtown area on our safety, streets and buildings?
If the increase in traffic is largely due to an increase in economic development, why can our government not afford to build safe and adequate infrastructure that does not harm the environment?
How can we be assured that the new campground location on the outside of the curve of the Athabasca River combined with required cutting of dense, old growth forest will not further destabilize the banks of the Athabasca River?
The Tawatinaw Watershed is a large natural heritage system linking wetlands, lakes, and forests and a critical river corridor for wildlife connecting the Tawatinaw Watershed with the Athabasca River Corridor in the Town of Athabasca. How can a multiuse sidewalk for animals and humans maintain this link?
How can we influence Alberta Transportation to consult impacted citizens directly about this proposed project?
The Process of Decision Making in Alberta Often Affects Local Citizens and Environments Adversely
What Needs to be Changed?
Citizens would like:
To be fully engaged in a fair and open consultation process concerning projects that threaten human safety and potentially cause harmful impacts on the environment. Consultations should be recorded and made publicly available.
All levels and departments of government to be open and transparent about their decision making.
To see information sharing and cooperation among relevant government departments at all levels.
Watershed stewardship groups to be engaged early in conversation with government authorities concerning proposed development projects in order to prevent environmental impacts in their watershed.
The development of Watershed Management Plans to involve Watershed Stewardship Groups (WSG ’ s), local government authorities, Watershed Planning Advisory Councils (WPACs) and the Alberta Water Council (AWC), environmental non-government organizations (ENGO ’ S) and concerned citizens. All parties need to understand the full range of decisions that are made concerning water in their regions, and work together to prevent harm to their watersheds.
Watershed Management Plans that factor into strong regional stewardship plans that are sensitive to local circumstances.
Town Plans and Watershed Management Plans to become a vital part of decision making, not dust collectors on a shelf.
Recommendation: The WPACs could add to their websites a list of watershed groups within their regions, including their management plans, issues, concerns, and project successes. This could be a one-stop location for the public to access information about stewardship groups in their region.