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CPAWS Gives Guarded Support to New National Park Ski Area Development Guidelines

  • Published on Dec 11 2006 |
  • This article is tagged as: parks

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is voicing guarded support for new ski area development guidelines announced today by federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.  The new guidelines offer ski area operators a greater degree of freedom than previous guidelines to propose new developments within the area of their existing operations. However, they lay out clear criteria for judging the appropriateness of proposed developments.  Many of those criteria are based on ecological principles.

"These guidelines re-affirm Canada's commitment to the ecological integrity of its national parks," says Dave Poulton, Executive Director of CPAWS' Calgary/Banff Chapter. "Ski areas will be allowed a new flexibility to propose new developments, but they will have to do so within the confines of what can be ecologically justified."

Poulton cautions, however: "Because of the new flexibility which has been offered, a new onus has been placed on ski area operators and on Parks Canada to be diligent in applying ecological principles and sound science to planning decisions.  If they are lax or seek loopholes in these new guidelines, the parks may pay a very heavy price. We at CPAWS will be vigilant to see that these obligations are strictly complied with and we expect many Canadians across the country will be keeping watch with us."

The guidelines significantly revise previous guidelines issued in October, 2000.  CPAWS has been supportive of those earlier guidelines and has since 2000 urged ski area operators to develop Long Range Plans in accordance with them.  "We continue to believe that the 2000 guidelines were sound, and that they could have been a basis for long range planning.  It is unfortunate that the ski areas were not open to proceeding in that manner," said Poulton.  "We will, however, look forward to engaging constructively with Parks Canada and ski area operators under the new guidelines."

"It is very significant that we with this announcement we have had successive federal governments of different political persuasions who have committed to the ecological integrity of our national parks.  Further, they have seen limits to development as an important tool to achieve that goal.  That consistency of commitment, regardless of political stripe, bodes well for the future security of our parks.  We wish to thank Minister Ambrose for her attention to our concerns and for standing up for natural values in Canada's national parks."