Amid reports of bullying and concern for personal safety, the provincial government has cancelled public information sessions related to its proposal to invest $40 million in expanding parks, protecting land, and developing areas in the Bighorn Country region.

In a statement released Saturday, Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips wrote she has become concerned about “inflamed rhetoric and inaccurate statements” leading to misinformation by individuals and organizations on social media—and has heard allegations of abuse.

“I have heard stories of Albertans afraid to attend community events, Albertans berated in public, Albertans followed home, and Albertans feeling intimidated to not speak their mind or participate in this important discussion.”

As a result, the remaining sessions in Drayton Valley, Red Deer, Sundre and Edmonton have been cancelled and the government will be looking at other ways to engage the communities, the statement said.

“We do not feel we can guarantee the public’s safety or freedom from intimidation at this time.”

The proposal, announced late November, asked for feedback from the public until Jan. 31, 2019. The public engagement period has been extended to Feb. 15 to accommodate the new plans.

“We’re not done yet. We need your help. We continue to listen to Albertans and hear your feedback. But this must be done in a respectful way—a way that ensures everyone feels safe and welcome to participate.”

The statement said there would be two telephone town hall sessions scheduled for Drayton Valley and Red Deer in the coming weeks.

Public engagement has so far reached 30,000 Albertans.