March 26, 2021
Calgary, AB – As the Government of Alberta prepares to launch consultations on the development of a new coal policy, a new poll found that the majority of Albertans want more protection for the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Of those who were aware of the coal issue, more than half do not trust that the government’s public consultation will provide a fair representation of what the public wants regarding coal development.
The poll, conducted by the market and social research firm Leger, found that 76% of Albertans are in favor of more protections for nature and recreation in the Eastern Slopes. Support for more protection was consistent across Alberta, in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across age groups and income levels.
The poll commissioned by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Livingstone Landowners Group also revealed that among those who were aware of potential coal development in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta’s Rockies, 66% opposed new coal mining in the region.
“The past few months have shown all of us that Albertans care deeply about the Eastern Slopes and are very concerned about new coal developments. It will be important that the government consultation provides the opportunity to envision a new future for this landscape and not assume that new coal mining is acceptable to Albertans,” said Katie Morrison, Conservation Director of CPAWS Southern Alberta.
The poll also showed that, among those aware of the issue, 64% opposed ongoing exploration activity in the Eastern Slopes. Since the Coal Policy was rescinded, extensive exploration activities have been approved for the region, including road building and exploratory drilling. While the Policy was reinstated in February 2021 and consultations on a new policy were announced, the government has permitted these coal exploration activities to continue.
“As a province, we are still having conversations about the future of this landscape and whether coal has any place in it. The fact that these companies can continue exploration and cause damage to these important areas while Albertans are expressing concern casts doubt on the validity of the consultation. It fails to create trust on whether or not the government has already decided that mining will continue in these areas,” says Morrison.
The poll suggests that many Albertans have these same doubts. 60% of those surveyed who were aware of the coal issue do not believe that the government’s process of consultation will provide an accurate representation of public opinion.
Regardless of whether or not they were aware of the coal issue, the majority of Albertans want to see a greater emphasis on the protection of the Eastern Slopes. This landscape is valued for the benefits that it provides including clean water, recreation opportunities, and habitat for wildlife.
“As the government moves ahead with consultation, we hope they consider the fact that not everyone wants to talk about coal development. In fact, many in the province would rather discuss the protection of this important landscape,” says Norma Dougall, Vice President of the Livingstone Landowners Group.
The poll was conducted as part of an omnibus survey by the market and social research firm Leger from March 19 to 22, 2021, and included a sample size of 1000 randomly selected respondents from across the province. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Alberta population according to census parameters. The poll was conducted using Leger’s online panel, which includes over 450,000 Canadians. For comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1000 Albertans is accurate within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
For more information contact:
Conservation Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta
Vice President, Livingstone Landowners Group