make a donation

CPAWS welcomes letter from former senior Parks Canada staff regarding Jasper resort proposal

Ottawa -- Three former Parks Canada leaders have sent a strongly worded letter this week to the Federal Environment Minister urging her to reject a private company’s proposal to build a resort at Jasper National Park’s iconic Maligne Lake.

With a combined service record of over 90 years at progressively senior levels within Parks Canada, former Banff Superintendent, Kevin Van Tighem; former Director General of National Parks, Nikita Lopoukhine; and former Chief Ecosystem Scientist, Dr. Stephen Woodley charge that Maligne Tours’ proposal to develop a hotel beside the lake contravenes Parks Canada’s policy and, if approved, would open the floodgates to more commercial development throughout Canada’s cherished Rocky Mountain National Parks.

The proposal is under active consideration by Parks Canada.

“It is our view that the Canadian people, Jasper and other national park ecosystems and Parks Canada have nothing to gain and plenty to lose if this development is approved,” write the three well-respected leaders in their field.

“Maligne Tours’ proposed resort contravenes Parks Canada’s 2007 policy that prohibits any new commercial accommodations outside park town sites and places clear negotiated limits on all existing “outlying commercial accommodations”.  This policy was developed after significant study by an expert panel and considerable public dialogue…  In our considered view, making an exception to this policy would undermine the entire policy foundation for controlling commercial development in our national parks,” they write.

The three urge the Environment Minister to “take a stand now that will help safeguard Canada’s national parks for years to come.... The question is whether you want to be known as the Minister who stood up for, and protected our national parks for Canadians, now and in the future?”

They cite concerns about the impact of the proposed hotel on wildlife, including a highly threatened caribou herd, as well as grizzlies and harlequin ducks, and they question the need for a hotel to attract visitors.

“A survey of Maligne Lake visitors showed 99% were satisfied with their visit, which raises the question whether the proposed development would in fact address the 1% who were not fully satisfied, and if so, if it is worth the risks noted above.  Fundamentally, Parks Canada surveys show that Canadians are attracted to national parks for their wildlife and pristine natural beauty and not for built developments, regardless of whether they are tasteful, green or rustic,” write the park experts.

“CPAWS welcomes this public statement of opposition to the Maligne Lake resort proposal from three highly respected former senior managers who worked for Parks Canada for most of their careers, and are still actively engaged as parks and conservation experts in Canada and around the world.” said Éric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS National Executive Director.  “Their public statement reinforces CPAWS’ opposition to the Maligne Tours resort proposal, and more broadly, our growing concern that management priorities are shifting away from conserving nature as a first priority in our national parks and towards private commercial development.  This is not what Canadians want for their treasured national parks.”

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. Maligne Tours, the commercial operator that runs daytime operations at Maligne Lake, is proposing to build a 66 suite hotel and 15 tent cabins along the shores of this iconic lake.

CPAWS has been working to stop this proposal for overnight accommodation at Maligne Lake, and to ensure that any management plan for the Maligne Valley respects park policies and laws, and will support the long term well-being of caribou, grizzly bears and other vulnerable wildlife that reside in the area.


See the complete letter at:

For more information on CPAWS' campaign to protect Maligne Lake, please click here

For interviews:

Ellen Adelberg, (613) 569-7226 x 234, cell (613) 292-2875


About the Authors:

Nikita Lopoukhine: Former Director General of National Parks, Parks Canada; former Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas

Nikita Lopoukhine had a long and distinguished career with Parks Canada, as a science advisor, Director of the Natural Resources Branch (which he re-named the Ecological Integrity Branch) and as Director General of National Parks.  He championed a science-based approach to ecological management, including fire management, ecological restoration, ecological integrity, and the challenge of climate change.  In 2004 Nik was elected at the World Conservation Congress to the prestigious role of Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the premier global network of protected areas experts – a position he held until 2012.

In 2011 Nik was awarded the J.B. Harkin Medal for Conservation in recognition of his lifetime contribution to conserving parks and protected areas.

Kevin Van Tighem: Former Superintendent, Banff National Park

Kevin Van Tighem worked for Parks Canada in national parks for more than three decades, as a biologist, nature interpreter and senior manager, most recently as Superintendent of Banff National Park. In 2011 he left the public service to reclaim his voice as a writer and conservation advocate. He’s the author of several books on wildlife and conservation including, most recently, Bears Without Fear and The Homeward Wolf.

Dr. Stephen Woodley: Former Chief Ecosystem Scientist, Parks Canada

Dr. Stephen Woodley worked for Parks Canada for 35 years as a park ecologist, forest ecologist, manager of the national fire restoration program, and most recently, as the Agency's first Chief Ecosystem Scientist. He was a member of the blue ribbon Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks, which was awarded the prestigious J.B. Harkin Conservation Medal in 2010. For the past three years Stephen has worked for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature where he is currently co-chair of their Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas.