Progress Report

Establishment of New National Parks and National Marine Conservation Areas, 2000-2001

Establishing New National Parks And National Park Reserves Of Canada

In 2000 and 2001, Parks Canada continued to make significant progress toward one of its main priorities, completion of the national parks system by obtaining representation from all 39 “National Park Natural Regions”. A major factor in the pace of new park establishment is the degree of stakeholder cooperation and the extent of public support that exists for the creation of a proposed park.

As noted above, 25 natural regions are now represented by 39 national parks and national park reserves. In the 14 remaining unrepresented regions, opportunities to protect large, intact wilderness areas are quickly disappearing due to competing land uses such as urban development, forestry, mining and agriculture. In what is in effect a race against time, efforts are under way to preserve several major unrepresented ecosystems, including types of boreal, Arctic, grassland and marine environments.

The proclamation of the Canada National Parks Act on October 20, 2000 was a significant achievement. The new Act provided a modern legislative framework for the administration and control of Canada’s national parks, and confirmed that ecological integrity will be the top priority for parks management. It also streamlined the process of establishing or enlarging future national parks and park reserves. The Act formally established seven national parks of Canada and one national park reserve: Gros Morne, Aulavik, Wapusk, Grasslands, Sirmilik, Auyuittuq and Quttinirpaaq national parks, and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada. Canada’s national parks cover 244,540 square kilometres, about 2.5 percent of the nation’s total land area. Although no new national parks were created during the review period (the parks cited above had already been created; the new Act gave them formal recognition), solid progress toward completing the national parks system was achieved.

During the period of this report, negotiation of park establishment agreements that set out terms and conditions for new national parks in the Gulf Islands (Region 2 in British Columbia), and Ukkusiksalik (Region 16 in Nunavut Territory) were completed. Further, negotiations for a national park reserve in the Torngat Mountains (Region 24 in Newfoundland and Labrador) were significantly advanced, through discussions with both the province and the Labrador Inuit Association. Land acquisition continued at existing national parks where land assembly is incomplete, such as Grasslands and Bruce Peninsula national parks of Canada.

Highlights

Progress varies toward establishing parks in the 14 remaining natural regions. Timing for their establishment depends on many factors, including cooperation and partnership with Aboriginal organizations and other governments.

Ukkusiksalik (Wager Bay, Nunavut)

The proposed national park extends more than 150 kilometres inland from Hudson Bay. Features glacier-polished islands and shorelines, colourful cliffs and tidal flats backed by rolling tundra. Its lands received interim protection in 1996 under the Territorial Lands Act. In 2001, Parks Canada, the Kivalliq Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut concluded the negotiation of an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for park establishment, as required under the 1993 Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. When established, the park will protect almost 20,000 square kilometres and almost an entire watershed within the central Arctic; it is expected that the final agreement will be signed in the near future.

Bathurst Inlet
Bathurst Inlet
© Parks Canada
Bathurst Island (Nunavut)

The proposed national park is representative of the harsh winters, vast expanses of bedrock and very short growing season typical of the High Arctic. A major calving area for the endangered Peary caribou is found within the area. A park feasibility study is nearing completion, to be followed by negotiations with Inuit toward an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. After reviewing the results of biological, mineral and hydrocarbon inventories and field studies, work progressed on development of potential park boundaries. Lands have been withdrawn for interim protection since 1996 under the Territorial Lands Act.

East Arm Of Great Slave Lake (Northwest Territories)

In 1970, a spectacular area of 7,407 square kilometres along the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and Artillery Lake was withdrawn for national park purposes under the Territorial Lands Act. Consultations on the proposed park were suspended shortly thereafter for several years at the request of the Snowdrift (now Lutsel K’e) Dene Band and the NWT Indian Brotherhood (now the Dene Nation) because of their concerns about the possible effects of the park on their traditional use of the land.

In 2001, the community of Lutsel K’e expressed a renewed interest in the national park proposal and discussions between Parks Canada and the Lutsel K’e have recommenced. Other First Nations and Métis are also asserting interests in the area.

Wolf Lake (Yukon)

Parks Canada has identified the Wolf Lake area in the southeast Yukon as the preferred location for a national park to represent the Northern Interior Plateaux and Mountains natural region. Wolf Lake is part of the traditional territory of the Teslin Tlingit. The lakes, rivers and surrounding plateau, wetlands and forests are an unspoiled and productive habitat for caribou, moose, wolf, waterfowl and salmon.

Southern Gulf Islands (British Columbia)

The southern Gulf Islands contain the highest concentration of ecologically significant and least disturbed lands remaining in the Strait of Georgia Lowlands Natural Region. Since the signing of the federal-provincial Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy Agreement in 1995, about 25 square kilometres have been jointly acquired for a new national park on a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” basis.

Consultations were undertaken with affected First Nations and, in 2001, a federal-provincial agreement setting out the terms and conditions for setting the area aside as a new national park reserve were successfully negotiated. Work began on resolving third-party interests in lands that would eventually form the national park reserve. When finally established, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada will total approximately 2,500 hectares — over six times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park — and encompass part or all of 15 islands.

Manitoba Lowlands
Manitoba Lowlands
© Parks Canada / R. Beardmore
Manitoba Lowlands (Manitoba)

A national park in the Manitoba Lowlands Natural Region would protect a lowland boreal forest plain of black spruce forest, wetlands, large freshwater lakes and shoreline habitats, mixed-wood uplands and associated wildlife including woodland caribou, moose, waterfowl and shorebirds. The proposed national park has two components: Long Point, on the western side of Lake Winnipeg and Limestone Bay at the north western corner of Lake Winnipeg.

A feasibility study for the establishment of this national park began in 1994, and discussions continue with nearby First Nations and communities. Parks Canada is reviewing the proposed park boundaries in the hope of adjusting them to enhance the park’s ecological integrity and its representation of the natural region.

Torngat Mountains (Newfoundland and Labrador)

The proposed Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve of Canada protect a spectacular wilderness of mountains, scenic fiords, river valleys and rugged coastal areas. Cliffs up to 900 metres high rise abruptly from the sea. Inland, the Torngat Mountains reach elevations that are the highest in mainland Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains.

A study by Parks Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Labrador Inuit Association concluded in 1996 that establishment of a national park reserve in this area was feasible. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has provided interim protection to the area of interest by prohibiting new mining activity and instituting a moratorium on Crown applications. Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Labrador Inuit Association have reached an agreement in principle for the establishment of this new national park reserve and, in 2001, negotiations toward a federal-provincial park agreement, and an impact and benefit agreement with the Labrador Inuit, were initiated. Parks Canada has also offered to consult with the Nunavik Inuit about the proposed national park reserve.

Palmer River in the Torngat mountains
Palmer River in the Torngat mountains
© Parks Canada
Mealy Mountains (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Located in southern Labrador, the Mealy Mountains rise steeply from the south of tidal Lake Melville and attain heights of over 1,100 metres. Representative of the East Coast Boreal Natural Region, the area of interest includes mountain tundra, expansive upland bogs, boreal forest, spectacular wild rivers, coastal ecosystems, and diverse wildlife. In March 2001, a feasibility study for a national park in the Mealy Mountains area began, and is expected to take approximately three years to complete. The study is also assessing public support and exploring potential park boundaries.

Laurentian Boreal Highlands Natural Region (Quebec)

In 2000, Parks Canada initiated work to update its earlier studies to identify representative natural areas within the Laurentian Boreal Highlands Natural Region. This work will identify the potential representative natural area and is nearing completion.