Is Parks Canada losing its focus?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, MyToba.ca