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Lower Athabasca Region 



Status: Regional plan approved. Implementation underway.



Alberta's first regional plan sets strong environmental limits, conserves sensitive lands, provides certainty to industry, diversifies the economy and offers numerous recreational opportunities in the Lower Athabasca region.




LARP Regional Planning 


Status: Planning Completed


The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan was approved by Cabinet on August 22, 2012. It became effective on September 1, 2012 after three years of planning and input from several thousand Albertans.


LARP Regional Advisory Council 


Status: Advice Provided 


LARP Regional Advisory Council (RAC) advice provided recommendations on economic growth, land conservation, air and water thresholds, and human development needs in the region. 


LARP Consultation 


Status: Consultations Completed


Consultations with First Nations and Métis communities, stakeholders, municipalities and the public informed development of the plan.


LARP Outcomes


Status: Plan Approved


LARP sets the stage for robust growth, vibrant communities and a healthy environment within the region over the next 50 years.



The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan


The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2012) was approved on August 22, 2012. It became effective on September 1, 2012. 


The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) is a comprehensive, forward-thinking and legally binding roadmap that enhances the Alberta government's environmental management, addresses growth pressures and supports economic development. It is the first of seven regional plans committed to under Alberta's innovative Land-use Framework, which is unprecedented in Canada.


The regional plan considers the cumulative effects of all activities on air, water and biodiversity. It establishes new environmental frameworks with limits to protect air and surface water quality and increases the total conserved land within the region to more than two million hectares three times the size of Banff National Park.


 - Excerpt from Government of Alberta News Release (August 2012) -




LARP sets the stage for the next 50 years, concentrating on environmental, economic and social actions by:


  • Immediately setting regional environmental limits for air and surface water quality and regional groundwater management framework with interim triggers;
  • Establishing six new conservation areas, bringing the total conserved land in the region to two million hectares, or 22 percent of the region;
  • Changing the Dillon River Conservation Area from a Public Land-use Zone to a Wildland Provincial Park and increasing the size by 27,245 hectares to 191,544 hectares, thus securing a larger tract of important caribou habitat;
  • Addressing infrastructure challenges and new strategies to plan for urban development around Fort McMurray;
  • Providing year-round tourism and recreational opportunities through the creation of nine new provincial recreation areas, which will have access to campsites, trails and boat docks;
  • Committing to a regional trail system plan;
  • Committing to the development of tailings management, biodiversity, and surface water quantity frameworks;
  • Committing to engage and work with aboriginal communities on initiatives to incorporate traditional knowledge into environmental planning;
  • Identifying opportunities to engage with aboriginal communities on initiatives that support tourism development;
  • Providing certainty for industry development of the oil sands; and
  • Supporting diversification of the regional economy - recognizes tourism and recreational opportunities, the potential for further responsible development of energy, minerals, coal, surface materials, forestry and agriculture.


- Excerpt from Government of Alberta News Release (August 2012) - 



Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Maps and Shapefiles 


New conservation and recreation/tourism areas identified in LARP are found in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan 2012-2022 Schedule G Map (2012). To view this map online, go to LARP Highlights. To download this map or any maps associated with the Lower Athabasca region or with the Regional Advisory Council's advice to government, refer to Maps and Shapefiles.


LARP 2012-2022 Schedule G Conservation and Recreation Tourism Areas Shapefiles and other ESRI shapefiles are also available to support detailed spatial analysis and custom mapping.



Implementation Announcements


The Government of Alberta has completed the following initiatives under the regional plan: 


Implement Air Quality Management Framework for the Lower Athabasca Region

Completed September 1, 2012. 
Implement Surface Water Quality Management Framework for the Lower Athabasca River Completed September 1, 2012.  
Implement Groundwater Management Framework for the Lower Athabasca Region with interim triggers. Completed September 1, 2012.   


In June 2013, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development completed Lower Athabasca Region Groundwater Management Framework supporting documents for the Cold Lake-Beaver River, North Athabasca Oil Sands and South Athabasca Oil Sands areas


Work has also been completed or is underway on several related initiatives including: establishing interim protection for all proposed conservation and provincial recreation areas; updating the Surface Water Quality Management Framework; implementing an enhanced monitoring, evaluation and reporting system; establishing new conservation and provincial recreation areas; and improving the regulatory process. Refer to LARP Outcomes for status updates.


 - Excerpt from Government of Alberta News Release (August 2012) - 


The Government of Alberta received Requests for Review of LARP and has appointed a Panel to consider the requests for review and provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta within one year of their appointment by June 22, 2015. The Panel must provide advice on whether each applicant is directly and adversely affected by either a specific provision or provisions in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan.


LARP Implementation Materials



LARP Desired Outcomes

    • Economic potential of oil sands resource is optimized
    • Region's economy is diversified
    • Landscapes are managed to maintain ecosystem function and biodiversity
    • Air and water are managed to support human and ecosystem needs
    • Infrastructure development supports economic and population growth
    • Quality of life of residents is enhanced through increased opportunities for recreation and active living
    • Inclusion of aboriginal peoples in land-use planning