Parks Canada focusing more on promotion than protection: report
Published Monday, July 11, 2016 10:47PM EDT
A new report from Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is slamming Parks Canada for forsaking conservation in favour of cash.
“What we’ve seen over the last little while is a real trend, a movement from the primary legislated purpose of Parks Canada to maintain the ecological integrity and the safety of the nature within our parks to more of a tourism and experience-focused approach, which is creating all sorts of development pressures within our parks and is actually nibbling away at the very nature that these parks are intended to protect,” Éric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS’ national executive director, told CTV News Channel.
CPAWS is perhaps the most prominent parks and wilderness monitoring association in the country.
Released Monday, CPAWS’ annual report lists 17 recommendations for Parks Canada, including everything from cancelling pre-approved projects that would disturb intact wilderness to reinvesting in conservation and park reporting.
CPAWS’ report cites problematic new developments, such as a $66 million paved bike path in Jasper National Park that would span the equivalent of 14 football fields. The project, which appeared in the 2016 federal budget, was approved without public discussion or an environmental review. Hébert-Daly says that the path would cut through sensitive grizzly bear and caribou habitat.
“Why are we driving additional activities and additional infrastructure in areas that are already quite densely populated?” Hébert-Daly says of the incredibly popular park.
“It isn’t necessary for us to be paving over new park areas in order to be able to bring in new visitors because the truth is, A) that’s not what people are coming to see, and B) there isn’t actually a visitor problem in terms of getting people out to our parks right now.”
CPAWS wants the new federal government to limit development in parks and focus instead on nurturing their ecological integrity.
“The truth is that conservation funding has gone down by 30 per cent while visitor experience funding has gone up by nine,” Hébert-Daly says. “It’s a very big concern for us in terms of where this trend is leading”
You can read CPAWS’ full report here.