Confused and Contemplating – Screw It, I’ve Gone Camping

This past weekend, I went camping for the first time this year. We packed too much food, too much drink, and had far too much fun. The sun was scorching, and the bugs were…tolerable. Surrounded by good people (within COVID guidelines, of course), it was nearly a perfect weekend! The one thing I couldn’t help but notice? The campground we stayed at, one of my favourite campgrounds, wasn’t closed as previously promised by the provincial government. Isn’t that interesting?

There’s a chance you might be wondering why I say that… well…

Just over a year ago, the Government of Alberta announced a plan to partially or fully close 20 provincial parks and delist an additional 165+ other sites. One of my favourite campsites was among them. If you’re curious about some of that background, I had written a bit about that here. Now, to say I was upset may be a slight understatement. The reasoning for closing these sites wasn’t explained well. In all honesty, it seemed like a cheap way to save a buck (amidst other wasteful government spendings). Indeed, the amount saved by these closures was hardly worth mentioning in the total provincial budget. The government probably spends more on whiteout and whiskey than it does on these sites. In addition, the claim that these sites were underutilized was supported by a lack of evidence and faulty data. In fact, it was later revealed that it was the size of these campgrounds that made them a target, rather than how often they’re used. I’m really trying to bite my tongue in making a joke about that but, maybe, this is just another defining characteristic of governance in Alberta.

Anyway, for whatever reason, they changed their minds. None of the sites closed. As of December 2020, merely nine months after the initial announcement, and after failing to shut them in the summer of 2020, they inexplicably reversed their decision. I would like to believe I played a small part in that. However, my readership numbers for that specific post would suggest otherwise. So I’m forced to think that the highly advertised Defend Alberta Parks campaign should take most of the credit. (How humble and generous am I? Tell me in the comment section below!)

So, here I am, happily scratching my head, trying to figure out what the heck happened.

Looking back through the whole thing, I can’t help but laugh. There is very little to go on and very little thought or reasoning behind any of it. The Defend Alberta Parks campaign was highly effective and collected thousands upon thousands of signatures. So effective, in fact, that the UCP decided to do a counter-campaign and website of their own. The goal? To fight the misinformation regarding their “Optimizing Alberta Parks” plan (why you’d need to fight misinformation with a complete lack of information escapes me). They called it “My Parks Will Go On.” Someone high up in the chain of command thought themselves clever over comparing this to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Government critics and the opposition, on the other hand, were quick to point out the folly there. They thought it quite fitting that the UCP had used the theme song from the disaster movie Titanic, a film in which nobody was safe, in suggesting the parks were safe. If this isn’t irony, I don’t know what is. Now, if you looked at the website MyParksWillGoOn.ca, you’d notice a change of tone. There’s a simple statement that the parks aren’t going anywhere because “we deserve to enjoy our land” and that the parks “might be getting some upgrades.” There’s a small survey along the bottom, but not much else. I would assume the site doesn’t have much of a purpose except to serve as a reminder of a failed plan.

And after all that, I’m still left without a reasonable explanation.

So, I’ve come to one of four conclusions in this whole debacle.

  1. The claims that there was misinformation about the plan were true.
  2. The government realized and admitted they made a mistake.
  3. There is a God.
  4. This isn’t what Albertans wanted.

First, there wasn’t misinformation. You guys specifically used the word “closed.” I don’t know how else people should interpret the word. It’s pretty straightforward. Second, hell would freeze over quicker. And considering the claims of misinformation, I would say we can rule this one out. Third, while I don’t consider myself an overly religious person, I am not willing to discount the possibility of an omniscient being watching over us and guiding us. But, if he/she/they do exist, I’m sure they have bigger things to worry about. Fourth is the most likely possibility, but then again, we’d have to have a government that actually listens to what the people want, and I’m not holding my breath. The truth is, I’d find it extremely hard to believe that any of these items are the real reason that the decision was reversed.

I’m not complaining though. Far from it. I got to enjoy an amazing weekend surrounded by the natural beauty of one of my favourite camping spots. I don’t care how or why, but I hope to continue doing so for years to come. And I owe it all to those that fought to keep it open, and to those that can’t formulate a logical plan to save their lives…

I think.

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