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Protect Jasper National Park from proposed development at Maligne Lake

Jasper National Park in Alberta is one of Canada’s most spectacular and beloved national parks. Part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, Jasper is home to Maligne Lake, one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. In 2014 Maligne Tours, the commercial operator that ran daytime operations at Maligne Lake, proposed building a resort along the shores of this iconic lake.

On July 25, 2014, Parks Canada announced a decision on the resort proposal. While they rejected the proposed hotel building, they gave the green light to proposed tent cabins to advance to the next stage of the approval process, saying they will amend the park management plan to allow this development to proceed. CPAWS filed a legal challenge to the tent cabin proposal and went to court in late October 2015 in Edmonton.

Why did we go to court?

This proposal directly contravenes national park policy prohibiting new commercial overnight accommodations outside the park town site – a policy that was enacted specifically to control commercial development in our Rocky Mountain national parks. The proposal also threatens sensitive wildlife, including the endangered Maligne herd of woodland caribou, which only has four animals left and needs less development in its habitat, not more.

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Stand up for Jasper!
Stand up for Jasper!

Your voice is needed to ensure park policies are respected so Jasper and our other Rocky Mountain national parks are protected for future generations of Canadians to appreciate and enjoy.

Join thousands of Canadians who are standing up for Jasper. Sign the petition today.

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Federal Court Decision on Maligne Lake Development

On February 8, 2016, the Federal Court released its ruling in response to the legal challenge brought by CPAWS and the Jasper Environmental Association (JEA), represented by Ecojustice lawyers. 

The Court decision did not quash the concept approval for the proposed project, concluding that Parks Canada can consider conceptual proposals that may be contrary to a Management Plan, but it did rule that, ultimately, proposals that contravene the Management Plan cannot receive final approval.

“We’re happy to see the Court agrees that Parks Canada must comply with its own Management Plan,” said Alison Ronson, Executive Director of CPAWS’ northern Alberta chapter. “We are still reviewing the decision and considering next steps, but we note that since we brought this case forward the new federal government has promised to limit commercial development in national parks and to focus on supporting eco-tourism in gateway communities instead.  We are hopeful that this trend will continue moving forward.”

The threat

The Maligne Lake resort proposal in Jasper National Park disregarded the very policies and laws that are in place to protect wilderness and wildlife.

CPAWS challenged the federal government to say no to overnight commercial accommodation at Maligne Lake because:

  • It contradicts park policies designed to limit development – The proposed tent cabin development contradicts the 2010 Jasper Park Management Plan and the 2007 policy on outlying accommodations, both of which specifically prohibit new commercial accommodation outside Jasper town site in order to limit development pressures. Allowing the Maligne Lake hotel to proceed would create a precedent that could open the floodgates to uncontrolled development in our national parks.
  • It creates a bad precedent – Changing the park management plan to allow overnight accommodations at Maligne Lake would create a precedent that could open the floodgates to more commercial development in our national parks.
  • It threatens at-risk wildlife – An increase in morning and evening traffic on the Maligne Lake road could jeopardize the very survival of the Maligne herd of woodland caribou which has declined precipitously in the past 15 years from more than 60 to just 4 animals. The resort proposal could also harm grizzly bears and harlequin ducks – both sensitive species which rely on the northern end of Maligne Lake as important habitat.
  • It doesn’t respect the law – According to the National Parks Act, the federal government’s first priority in all park management decisions must be maintaining or restoring the integrity of park ecosystems. A proposal that threatens park wildlife doesn’t meet this test. 
  • Canadians don’t want it – A survey of Maligne Lake visitors showed 99% were satisfied with their visit. There is no evidence that park visitors and the Canadian public want this strip of development along the shoreline of Maligne Lake, and no demonstrated need to build overnight accommodation. Visitor surveys and polling show that Canadians want their national parks kept wild, and that people come to Rocky Mountain National Parks for the scenic natural beauty and wildlife viewing.
  • Jasper is a global treasure – As a World Heritage Site, Canada has promised the world we will protect Jasper National Park on behalf of the global community.

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