News / Edmonton

Controversial developments in mountain parks should be stopped: CPAWS

In new annual report CPAWS asks government to refocus on conservation

CPAWS wants to see less development in the mountain parks, in favour of a renewed focus on environmental protection.

Flickr/GoToVan

CPAWS wants to see less development in the mountain parks, in favour of a renewed focus on environmental protection.

A new report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is sounding the alarm over what the watchdog group says is excessive commercial development in Banff and Jasper National Parks.

In its latest annual report, CPAWS is asking Parks Canada to halt controversial developments recently given the green light—including new accommodations at Maligne Lake, the expansion of the Lake Louise ski hill and the recently announced bike path along the Icefields Parkway.  

The report focuses on what CPAWS argues is a shift away from conservation in favour of “tourism and marketing, increasing visitation, and revenue generation.”

Alison Ronson, executive director of the northern Alberta chapter of the group, said that the national parks are supposed to be the most protected areas in the country.

“But the people who are supposed to be managing these parks for us are not paying attention to their mandate, and there are many projects being pushed through without enough environmental assessment or public review,” she said.

“People should be concerned about that.”

Ronson said that while money recently announced for infrastructure in the mountain parks is welcome, some of it—including the $66 million earmarked for the new bike path linking the Banff and Jasper townsites—would be better spent on science or research.

While the report is national in scope, the concerns raised focus in on the Alberta mountain parks.

Ronson said that’s because Banff and Jasper are the “crown jewels” of Canada’s 46 national parks. Together, they attracted more than six million visitors last year.

She added that their protection should have special importance to Edmontonians.

“Urbanites are faced with these issue everyday because we drink the water from these protected areas everyday, we breathe the air and we all benefit from having protected wilderness,” she said.

In an emailed statement, a Parks Canada spokesperson said that “it should be noted that strict development limits are in place to protect the ecological integrity of national parks."

The statement also said Parks Canada will review all development for environmental effects.

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