Is Parks Canada losing its focus?

A new report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society claims that Parks Canada has shifted its attention away from focusing on nature, sustainability and ecosystems.

It is a very bold statement to make, but the CPAWS has backed its claims stating that over the past ten years, Parks Canada has become heavily focused on the tourism/marketing aspect that their parks generate, as opposed to what they believe should be the main focus, wildlife and nature.

Alison Woodley, National Director of CPAWS’ Parks Program, believes that the ecological integrity of Parks Canada should be preeminent. Woodley strongly argues that the decisions and approvals surrounding new developments should not continue to happen behind closed doors.

“National parks are supposed to be the gold standard for conservation in our country,” says Alison Woodley, National Director of CPAWS’ Parks Program. “If Parks Canada shifts away from its conservation mandate, where will our wildlife and wilderness be safe?”

The CPAWS have highlighted three issues that they believe need to be changed:

  1. Limiting development – Expansions such as the recent renovation project at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park, additions that go against the management plan for Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, as well as a $66 million paved bike path which has been approved to wind its way through grizzly bear and caribou habitats.
  2. Refocusing on ecological integrity and funding for science – On Parks Canada’s most recent report, less than half of the parks listed were in ‘good condition’. A third of those listed parks were listed as ‘declining in health’. Park management plan reviews are less than stellar, and often are going undone.
  3. Open and transparent decision making – Public feedback has often been ignored. Discussions surrounding conservation have largely shifted to become park visitation and tourism based.

Upon submitting 17 recommendations that the CPAWS believe will help bring Parks Canada back on track, Woodley still believes that more has to be done.

“We hope the new government will act immediately to stop developments in Banff and Jasper, and restore Parks Canada’s culture as a science-based nature conservation organization working in the long term public interest,” she said. “The future of wildlife and wilderness in our national parks depends on re-focusing on nature first and foremost in their management.”


Carter Brooks is a news writer/reporter and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Carter spent time with The Hockey News Magazine in Toronto, and currently writes sports for Game On Magazine and SEVEN Magazine. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favourite pastime.
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  • Hanspeter Corti says:

    66 Millions for paved bike road through Nature Pure is anything else but an intelligent project! First Building the path is disturbing wild life and once built all that traffic of bikers +++ will certainly not calm down Natures wild life habitat. Other countries like e.g. Switzerland are protecting their natural paradises with every effort possible and ….. show very successful results!

    Areas, especially like Banff- or Jasper National Parks should really reamain protected as the attractive part of these areas is Nature and certainly not biker paths…..At the most these areas can be explored by pedestrians on already exisiting paths.

  • Ivan says:

    Being an ex-employee of Parks Canada and in their defense, roughly 20 years ago, Parks Canada parks were asked and pretty well forced to be self sufficient and bring in enough revenues to cover the full operation of a park. So priorities had to change in order to follow Mother Government’s agenda and to focus on making money. It takes a lot of money to maintain a park , never mind protection.

  • Herry says:

    Oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink,…