Committee Meets with Minister of Environment and Parks

Minister Nixon updates the committee on Resolutions 2-21, 2-19, 5-19, 4-18, E3-17

On August 10, the Committee was pleased to meet with Minister Nixon, Deputy Minister Bev Yee and various ADMs and department staff for a virtual half hour discussion of the active resolutions sent to Environment and Parks. Minister Nixon and his staff were able to address all of the 5 active resolutions and updates will be available in the 2021 Resolution Report Card.

2-21: Pesticide Container Collection Program.

AEP staff were more than happy to provide a more detailed explanation of regulatory responsibilities of municipalities for waste management and that the municipalities are only responsible for proper disposal of pesticide containers they have collected. Any municipality no longer wishing to manage pesticide container collection, is free to divest the collection site and reclaim or repurpose it. The staff then shared the resolution with CleanFarms who is responsible to dispose of the containers collected in municipal sites.

CleanFarms contacted the ASBPC and has assured the Committee that they are proposing several ways to engage and address the issues with pesticide container collection in Alberta and will be reaching out to municipalities later this fall.

2-19: Wildlife Predator Compensation Program Enhancement.

In 2019, ASBs asked the provincial government to improve the Wildlife Predator Compensation program by allowing GPS and time stamped photos to be used to confirm the predator type and reduce the number of site visits needed. AEP is currently reviewing this program and would be pleased to have feedback from the ASBs on this program. Deputy Minister Bev Yee was very open to the idea of adopting technology and certifying more investigators to improve turn around time for investigation and compensation. The ASBPC will connect with ministry staff to further the discussion and provide feedback.

5-19: Multi-Stakeholder Committee to Work at Reducing the Use of Fresh Water by the Oil and Gas Industry in Alberta.

This resolution comes from a concern with the increase of fresh water use by the fracking and injection processes used by the oil and gas sector, and the potential increase in competition with agriculture producers for water. The Minister and staff have been very active in addressing this concern and suggest that the the issue prompting the resolution has been addressed.

In December 2020, the AEP released a revised Water Conservation Policy for Upstream Oil and Gas which extends water conservation requirements to hydraulic fracturing and oil sands mining operations. To multi stakeholder engagements which included representatives from agriculture were consulted in 2014 and 2016-17 to develop this new policy.

In addition the Alberta Energy Regulator has been monitoring water use by the oil and gas industry and has data that shows significant reductions in the amounts of fresh water used.

  • Freshwater use for enhanced oil recovery has declined 61 percent since the early 70s, from approx. 85 million cubic metres to just over 30 million cubic metres in 2019.
  • The volume of fresh water used to produce a barrel of oil across the energy industry decreased by 40 percent between 2005 and 2015, and an additional three percent decreased has occurred since 2015.  

4-18: Weed Control on Alberta Vacant Public Lands Within Green Areas.

Since this resolution was submitted to the ministry in February 2018, the ministry has restructured and amalgamated the White zone and Green zone weed control programs and budgets. The ministry recognizes the importance of controlling the spread of invasive weeds and so has not reduced the budgets but instead has looked for ways to be more efficient in how the budget is used. It is important to understand that weed concerns found on oil and gas sites on public land need to be directed to the Alberta Energy Regulator. Only weed concerns on public lands that are NOT on oil and gas leases are addressed by Alberta Environment and Parks staff.

Many municipalities have long standing agreements with the ministry and are funded to provide weed control on public lands in their municipality. New agreements are started by contacting the local AEP Lands staff found on the Land Management Contact List or by contacting AEP information center at 310-3773 or aep.outreach-services@gov.ab.ca . Several factors are considered when prioritizing which weed concerns will be addressed as funds are limited.

Weed concerns are dealt with on an individual situation basis and to date there is no movement to develop a “comprehensive framework” to address invasive weeds, or any move to increase manpower resources to address the concerns as requested by the resolution.

E3-17: Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Prevalent in Bison Within and Surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park.

This issue continues to be a complex multi-jurisdictional issue, and there continues to be positive outcomes since implementing the Department’s 2010 management plan. Currently AEP has released a draft Alberta-Canada Wood Bison section 11 Conservation Agreement that was posted online on June 25, 2021, and is open for public comment until August 24, 2021. The agreement contains new opportunities for improving disease containment including a commitment by Parks Canada to establish bison control zones within Wood Buffalo National Park. ASBs concerned about this issue are encouraged to provide feedback through the public engagement and refer concerned members of the public to the engagement.

In addition to this public engagement the ministry staff suggest that a round table discussion with staff from various parts of the department that have activities related to this resolution may be the best way to assess the response to this resolution.

Overall the engagement with the Minister was positive and the Committee was encouraged by the engagement of the ministry staff in resolving the issues that prompted the resolutions.