Our website featured an exchange of letters between Grant Potter and Superintendent Greg Fenton in our September 2013 blog under the title Save Our National Parks. The following letter expressing Grant’s concern regarding the proposed tent cabins and amendment to the Jasper National Park Management Plan was received today by the JEA.
October 3, 2014
Superintendent, Jasper National Park of Canada
Re: Maligne Tours Proposal
Me again. To say that I was disappointed when I saw Parks Canada’s announcement that it will continue to consider tent cabins at Maligne would be an understatement.
Taking out consideration of the hotel in no way makes the proposal more palatable or less in contravention of the management plan. And to hear Parks will amend the management plan to allow the release of new land for this new outlying commercial accommodation (OCA) causes me a number of concerns.
- Not only will the release of lands statement need to be amended, but also any reference to following the OCA Guidelines (i.e. no new OCAs), and the statement that Maligne Tours will be held to the development limits in their land agreements.
- The precedents. If another entrepreneur wants an OCA at Lake Annette, will it be considered? Can the existing OCA operators be held to the restrictions in the guidelines?
Management plans are intended to guide decision-making, not be amended to fit decisions made. They are also there to record decisions made. There are very few unequivocal statements in the current management plan but the ones relating to this proposal are very clear. They are the declaration of conscious decisions made prior to any proposal, that were put through public consultation, vetted by Parliament and approved by the Minister. And Parks is tossing that all out.
I spent many years implementing some of the direction in the management plan and defending the plan and the planning process to those skeptics who felt Parks had hidden agendas or ulterior motives. I can’t anymore and I take it personally that this decision makes liars out of us all.
Lastly, these developments are all justified by “improving visitor experience” which is a valid goal for Parks Canada, but what happened to “gaining the support of the Canadian public”? Allowing more development in the park is not helping Parks Canada’s image in the eyes of the general public.
Copies: Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment
John McKay, MP Liberal Environment Critic
Megan Leslie, MP NDP Environment Critic
Jasper Environmental Association