At a time when many vacationers visiting a national park to go camping, canoeing and hiking, an environmental group accuses Parks Canada to breach its primary mission – that of protecting its sites.
The Wilderness Society and the Canadian Parks (SNAP) regrets that Parks Canada has privileged the past ten years the trade and tourism initiatives rather than the protection of nature.
The group reminds Ottawa to order: the mission of Parks Canada is to first ensure that the nature of these protected areas remains intact. This has especially against development projects, especially in the Rockies, as the expansion of the ski resort of Lake Louise or the development of commercial accommodation in Jasper Park. These projects threaten the habitat of some species of the region, such as the grizzly bear and caribou, says CPAWS.
Another illustration of this shift in favor of the tourism component: in the wake of budget cuts in 2012, the number of employees working for Parks Canada conservation has fallen 31%. During the same period, the number of employees dedicated to customer service was up 9%.
In the 2015-2016 budget, only 13% of funding to Parks Canada for its national parks for conservation.
In an interview, the national director of SNAP, Éric Hébert-Daly says he does not have against the fact that tourists are numerous in parks around the country.
“The problem is that if we continue to create more and more infrastructure and activities within our parks, we are being gouged nature that people are interested, precisely” , he points out.
In other words: yes to the discovery of nature in parks, but according to certain guidelines. And above all, bearing in mind that the preservation of nature must remain the priority. ” It worries me. If you can not do this for our national parks, what does that mean for the nature outside our parks? “If he asks.
SNAP also critical shortcomings in the environmental assessment to be conducted by Parks Canada on its sites, while no public report on the health of national parks ecosystems has been published since 2012.
“Now developers who are responsible not only to the environmental assessment, but also public consultations,” notes Mr. Hébert-Daly.
“Whose interests are served in? “, he asks. He says that much of the public was opposed to development projects in the Rockies, but that his opinion was not considered.
CPAWS welcomes, however, the government’s commitment to Justin Trudeau to promote ecological integrity and to establish an open decision-making process. She is particularly pleased that the construction of a giant statue in the National Park Highlands of Cape Breton was abandoned.
For the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Liberal troops announced that entry to all national parks will be free.
For Mr. Hébert-Daly, it’s a good thing that Canadians have access to their parks. He warns, however, against excessive traffic in the parks of Banff and Jasper, which already attracts 50% of national park visitors each year. In his view, the government should take serious steps to ensure that nature is protected during this festive year.