Dear Mr. Fenton,
I have read the Maligne Valley Situation Analysis and the related proposal by Maligne Tours for a hotel at Maligne Lake and would like to provide you with a few comments on each.
Regarding the situation analysis, I agree that some infrastructure needs fixing and interpretation can be improved. However, ecological integrity must be the first priority in the Maligne Valley and the wilderness vision for the valley, as issued by Parks in 1992, should be upheld.
Therefore, the protection of the tiny, shrinking Maligne caribou herd must take precedence, and in the absence of a complete understanding of why the herd is in trouble, the precautionary principle must be employed. This means a winter closure of important habitat and the Maligne Road.
A hotel at Maligne Lake would put already-threatened caribou and grizzlies at greater risk, not only because of increases in traffic on the Maligne Road, but also because of changes to the spatial and temporal patterns of human activity in the valley. Furthermore, it would be entirely inappropriate to construct a hotel at the north end of Maligne Lake, a site frequented by grizzlies, one identified as a wildlife movement pinch point, and one containing an Environmentally Sensitive Site created for the benefit of the sensitive Harlequin Duck.
Wildlife concerns aside, there is no public demand for a hotel. According to the situation analysis: “Visitors to the Maligne Valley are generally very satisfied with their experience. Almost all visitors would recommend the valley to others and 99% agreed that the visit had met or exceeded their expectations. When visitors were asked to rate their satisfaction with specific activities, they expressed high satisfaction with all activities …”
The hotel proposal by Maligne Tours is quite frankly ridiculous. It contains little in the way of assurances that the valley’s threatened and sensitive wildlife will not be put at greater risk. And a national park is no place for a hotel targeting “high-yield” and “premium-paying” customers or one offering amusement park attractions such as an outdoor maze.
Cc: Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Environment
Megan Leslie, MP, Environment Critic for the NDP
Kirsty Duncan, MP, Environment Critic for the Liberal Party
Elizabeth May, MP, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Alan Latourelle, CEO Parks Canada Agency