Off-road vehicle ban called for in Alberta's parks and public places

Kevin Van Tighem, representing a coalition of individuals and environmental groups, is calling on the provincial government to regulate land use to protect Alberta's waters and wildlife.

Provincial parks minister says she is committed to protecting the headwaters and wildlife

Off-road vehicle trails need to be regulated by the province, says conservationist Kevin Van Tighem. (CBC)

A conservationist and former superintendent for Banff National Park is concerned about the destruction caused by off-road vehicles in the province. 

Kevin Van Tighem is part of a coalition of individuals and environmental groups calling for strict limits on off-road vehicles on public land and bans in parks and protected areas. He told CBC's Alberta@Noon that anyone who has visited the headwaters of the Bull or Oldman rivers would be horrified by the damage caused.

"It's not what I believe, it's what I see," Van Tighem said this week. "It's sort of like a spreading level of sheer devastation."

Van Tighem is particularly concerned about the use of quads and other motorized vehicles in protected wilderness areas on the Eastern Slopes, including the new parks in the Castle Wilderness area of southwestern Alberta. 

Part of the problem is that outside of parks, there is no regulation about what riders can do.

"It's just a dog's breakfast, you can do whatever you like. And they do," Van Tighem said. 

A call for provincial leadership

But Van Tighem is careful to point out his problem is with the regulator, not the rider. 

"A lot of off-roaders really care about nature, they don't want to be causing harm. But they haven't been given proper facilities. ... Current government inaction has got them unable to be part of the solution."

Worse still, he said is that the province's newly planned provincial park in the Castle region will continue to allow off-road vehicles despite its designation as a park.

The Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips said she is still looking forward to hearing all points of view on this issue. 

"As we move forward with our park management process for the Castle area we are committed to the protection of the headwaters, as well as critical fish and wildlife habitat," Phillips said in a statement to CBC News. 

CBC Calgary contacted the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and had not heard back by the time this story was published. 


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