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From January 9th to 27th, thousands of Canadians submitted recommendations to the Minister’s Round Table on Parks Canada public consultation, speaking up for the protection of our national parks. Thank you! Under the Parks Canada Agency Act, this Round Table must be held every two years so Canadians can provide advice to the Minister on Parks Canada’s performance in delivering on its mandate. The consultation is now closed. By law the Minister must respond to written recommendations within 180 days. Stay tuned for news about her response.
By law, Canada’s national parks are places where nature is protected first and foremost, and where people can enjoy and appreciate nature in ways that leave the parks “unimpaired” for the benefit of future generations.
Last July, CPAWS released a report documenting a troubling shift in how Parks Canada is managing our national parks, away from nature conservation and towards marketing, tourism and infrastructure development, which is putting wildlife and wilderness in our parks at risk. The report highlighted significant cuts to Parks Canada’s conservation capacity, shifting program objectives, and a major decline in public participation opportunities as key problems.
In publicly responding to the report, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, pointed to the Minister’s Round Table as an opportunity to formally present these concerns and make recommendations to address them.
This public consultation is a chance for Canadians to help protect our national parks, and to support the creation of more parks and protected areas across Canada.
Nature is struggling in our national parks. Parks Canada’s own data show that almost half of park ecosystems are in fair or poor condition. Caribou are endangered in Jasper National Park. Grizzly bears are struggling in Banff. Wood Buffalo National Park is at risk of being placed on the “World Heritage In Danger” list because of the impact of upstream hydro and oil sands development.
Meanwhile, since 2012, Parks Canada’s science and conservation capacity has been cut by one third and the Agency’s ecological monitoring program has shrunk by almost one third in response.
In Canada’s busiest national parks, Banff and Jasper, Parks Canada has approved a series of new tourism developments that contravene park policies designed specifically to limit development. For example, a massive expansion of the Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff was given concept approval in 2015, even though it would encroach into legally protected wilderness. And in 2016, a new recreational pathway in Jasper was announced, even though it would pass right through the habitat of a critically endangered caribou herd. With the government offering free parks passes to Canadians in 2017, attention on these important spaces is greater than ever.
The removal in 2012 of the legal requirement for Parks Canada to conduct environmental assessments on projects in national parks has made it easier for these projects to gain approval with little public engagement.
The current federal government committed to limit development in national parks, refocus on protecting their ecological integrity, restore science funding and transparent decision-making and re-build environmental assessment processes.
The Minister’s Round Table consultation is a chance for all Canadians to make sure this happens!
The Minister’s Round table is an important opportunity for Canadians to help shape the future of our national parks. By law, the Minister must respond to written recommendations within 180 days.
This is your chance to urge the Minister to refocus Parks Canada on conserving nature as its first management priority, and to support the creation of more national parks and national marine conservation areas to better protect our land and seascapes for future generations .
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