|HISTORY/BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: ||Dates of Founding and/or Dissolution:|
The Department of the Environment was established April 1, 1971 through the Department of the Environment Act, 1971 (S.A. 1971, chapter 24). The Department of the Environment Act was repealed and superseded by the Government Organization Act, 1994 (S.A. 1994, chapter G-8.5, section 97).
The Department of the Environment was established to conserve and improve the environment for future Albertans. The Department's tasks included such things as the conservation, management and utilization of natural resources, the prevention and control of pollution, the preservation of natural resources, and the administration and the enforcement of laws that affect the ecology and natural resources of Alberta. The Department was also responsible for the co-ordination of the policies, programs and services, and administrative procedures of governmental departments and agencies in matters pertaining to the environment.
Alberta's major foray into coordinated environmental conservation began with An Act respecting Environment Conservation, 1970 (S.A. 1970, chapter 36). This act established the Environment Conservation Authority, to review government policies and programs as well as to inquire into matters pertaining to environment conservation, and the Conservation and Utilization Committee, to inquire into and study matters pertaining to environment conservation at the request of the Lieutenant Governor, as well as to act as a liaison between the government departments and agencies regarding policies and programs pertaining to environment conservation. These bodies continued to exist when the Department of the Environment was established, though many of the Conservation and Utilization Committee's functions were to be undertaken by the Department itself. The Environmental Conservation Authority was renamed the Environment Council of Alberta in1977, and continued to exist until its act was repealed in 1995.
The Department of the Environment Act, 1971 came into force April 1, 1971, establishing one of the first, if not the first, Department of the Environment in Canada. Along with the responsibilities outlined in the Act, two divisions were transferred to the new department. The Department of the Environment received from the Department of Health the Division of Environmental Health, which involved the control of air and water pollution, and from the Department of Agriculture the Water Resources Division, which involved numerous aspects of water regulation, control and planning. Along with the continued existence of the Environment Conservation Authority and the Conservation and Utilization Committee, the Act established the Natural Resources Co-ordinating Council. This Council was able to inquire into matters pertaining to the Environment, and review policies, programs, services and administrative procedures of governmental departments and agencies when pertaining to the environment. The Conservation and Utilization Committee reported to this new Council.
From 1972 until 1992, the department's organization showed a certain amount of stability. In 1972, the Department had three services to undertake its environmental functions: Environmental Protection Services, to undertake the control, monitoring and enforcement of pollution and the allocation of water supplies, later adding the encouragement of research into applied solutions for environmental problems; Environmental Engineering Support Services (losing Support from its title in 1979, and becoming Water Resources Management Services in 1982), to ensure that the multi-purpose water needs were met and to solve water-related problems, as well as to provide engineering services to the department; and the Environmental Planning and Research Services, which was incorporated into other divisions by 1976. A fourth service was added in 1973, the Environmental Coordination Services. This service was responsible for furthering the department's goal of balancing environmental quality and industrial development through integrating resource management and industrial management. It became the Environmental Evaluation Services in 1984; its functions were integrated into other divisions by 1988. Finance and Administration Services were added to the department in 1982, and took over Land Reclamation from Environmental Evaluation Services in 1988.
The years 1992 and 1993 were important for the Department of the Environment. The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, 1992 (S.A. 1992, chapter E-13.3) received ascension in 1992, and became effective September 1, 1993. This act provided broad legislation regarding environmental conservation, consolidating numerous previous acts administered by the Department, acts which were then repealed by the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. In December 1992, the Department of the Environment became the Department of Environmental Protection. The transfer order (A.R. 12/93) was filed in early January 1993; it involved the transfer of responsibilities from the Department of the Environment, as well as many of the responsibilities from the Department of Forestry, Lands and Wildlife, including the transfer of the administration of the Department of Forestry, Lands and Wildlife Act itself, and the responsibility for the Parks Division from the Department of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. This Department of Environmental Protection's objective was to ensure a quality environment for Albertans by providing clean air, water and soil; protecting wildlife, forests, parks, and other natural resources; and ensuring that the development of these resources is sustainable. The Department of the Environment Act was repealed under the Government Organization Act, 1994 (S.A. 1994, Chapter G-8.5, Schedule 5), and a department and minister for environmental matters were established.
The Department's organization reflected the numerous functions of the department, and was consolidated in 1994 into Forest and Land Service, Natural Resources Service, Corporate Management Service and Environmental Regulatory Services.
In 1999, the Department of Environmental Protection became the Department of Environment (O.C. 241/99). Two years later, the Department of Environment became much more focused once again. In 2001, the Department of Sustainable Resource Development was established (O.C. 95/2001); it was created from the administration of Public Lands, the Surface Rights Board and Land Compensation Board from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development; Forest Industry from the Department of Resource Development (renamed Energy); and Land and Forest Service, and Fisheries and Wildlife Management from the Department of Environment. The Natural Resources Conservation Board, previously, reporting to the Minister of the Environment, became administered jointly by this new Department and the Department of Environment. Administration of the Willmore Wilderness Park Act was transferred to the Department of Community Development; the Provincial Parks Act and the Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves and Natural Areas Act were to be administered jointly by Community Development and Environment (O.C.224/2002, A.R. 50/2002 amended the transfer to Community Development only).
Following the reorganization, the Department of Environment was left to administer the following legislations:
the Bighorn Agreement Validating Act,
the Brazeau River Development Act,
the Drainage Districts Act,
the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act,
Schedule 5 of the Government Organization Act,
part of the Mines and Minerals Act (in June 2002, no longer administered by Environment),
and the Water Act.
As well, the Beverage Container Management Board, the Albert Used Oil Management Association and the Tire Recycling Management Board continued as Delegated Administrative Organizations, reporting to the Minister of Environment.
Predecessor and Successor Bodies:
In the Consequential Amendments to The Department of Environment Act, 1971 (S.A. 1971, chapter 24), which amended the Environment Conservation Act, the new Department of the Environment overtook some of the functions previously undertaken by the Conservation and Utilization Committee. However, the Conservation and Utilization Committee continued to exist. The Department of the Environment inherited from the Department of Health the Division of Environmental Health, which was responsible for air and water pollution and administration of programs for the supervision of public waterworks and sewerage systems; the division became the Division of Pollution Control in the Department of the Environment. Water management, previously undertaken by the Water Resource Division in the Department of Agriculture, was to be administered by the new Department of the Environment. Administration of the Agricultural Chemicals Act was also transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Environment.
The Department of Environment is part of the Ministry of Environment and reports to the Minister of Environment. The Minister of Environment is a member of the Executive Council of the Alberta Government. The Minister reports to the Legislative Assembly, and submits the Annual Reports of his Ministry to the Lieutenant Governor.
The structure of the Department of the Environment is hierarchical. The Department is divided into services; these services are then divided into divisions, which administer various branches. These services and divisions have been continually reorganized throughout the existence of the Department.
Names of the Corporate bodies:
The Department of the Environment became the Department of Environmental Protection on December 15, 1992. On May 26, 1999, the Department of Environmental Protection became the Department of Environment. The Department of Environment is also often referred to as Alberta Environment, while the Department of Environmental Protection was referred to as Alberta Environmental Protection.
Names of Chief Officers:
Ministers of the Environment
James Henderson (1971)
William Yurko (1971-1975)
David Russell (1975-1979)
Jack Cookson (1979-1982)
Fred Bradley (1982-1986)
Ken Kowalski (1986-1988)