Trevor Holder

Tourism and Parks Minister Trevor Holder introduced new changes to the Parks Act on Thursday. (CBC)

Tourism and Parks Minister Trevor Holder is proposing a new law that will strengthen the provincial park system.

The bill, which was introduced in the legislative assembly on Thursday and stemmed from a consultation period with more than a dozen interest groups and an online survey that was completed by 2,500 individuals, is the first major revision of the Parks Act since 1961.

Holder said the proposed changes will strengthen protection and management of the park system and reflect the views of citizens who showed up for the consultation sessions.

“We're not interested in seeing our provincial parks sold off. They will be provincially owned, provincially protected, and I believe that's what this legislation will do,” he said.

The department says 80 per cent of the people who gave their input said parks should be protected as natural areas for future generations.

The legislative changes will tighten rules that prohibit activities, such as prospecting, staking, drilling, mining and quarrying.

'The proposed revisions are really moving us into the modern era of parks management and parks legislation.'- Roberta Clowater, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

The bill also compels each park to create a 10-year management plan that will guide each park where and when activities may take place.

"I think it sends a very clear message that the government of the day takes provincial parks seriously, [parks are] part of who we are as New Brunswickers, part of our connection with nature,” Holder said.

“But at the end of the day these parks are serious tourism products as well."

Roberta Clowater, the executive director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in New Brunswick, said it was critical to get the Parks Act updated.

She said the words environment, conservation and nature are not even mentioned in the 1961 law.

"The proposed revisions are really moving us into the modern era of parks management and parks legislation,” she said.

Clowater said New Brunswick has the least park and protected area of any province, which makes preserving what we have an important task.