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Sustainable Development Strategy 2007 - 2009

Changing Circumstances

Although there are many circumstances that can affect the sustainable development strategy, four in particular have a major impact on the Agency sustainable development strategies and action plans:

I. Government Investment Via Budget 2005 in Asset Recapitalization, Ecological Integrity, and the Historic Places Initiative

Asset Recapitalization

Budget Plan 2005 provided $209 million over five years to address the shortfalls chronicled in the Agency’s Long Term Capital Plan. Parks Canada has a unique opportunity to demonstrate environmental leadership as it recapitalizes existing visitor experience assets and infrastructure. Recently approved Parks Canada capital investment principles direct that investments should reduce any existing negative environmental impacts, while continuing to ensure that facilities respond to visitor needs and, wherever possible, reduce the existing visitor impact “footprint”. These same principles state that capital investments should exhibit cultural and environmental leadership; follow green design, contracting, procurement and operating principles; and use sustainable and environmentally sound energy sources within appropriate and affordable standards.

Ecological Integrity

With the funding announced in Budget Plan 2005 of $60 million over five years, Parks Canada will accelerate its actions over the next four years to improve the ecological integrity of Canada’s 42 existing national parks, by implementing its Action Plan and by responding to the 2005 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Playing a leadership role in ecosystem management and encouraging Canadians to become stewards on matters of ecological integrity and cultural resources management are key themes for the Agency.

Historic Places Initiative

Budget 2005 funding will also enable Parks Canada to sustain its collaboration with provinces and territories through the Historic Places Initiative. There is still an untapped opportunity to develop tools and programs to protect the historic fabric and built heritage of small and large communities across Canada. In addition, in her 2003 report, Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Federal Government , the Auditor General identified the need for a legislative framework to improve overall federal stewardship of historic properties; work is also needed to put the federal house in order.

II. The Evolving Nature of Aboriginal Relations

The creation and management of many national historic sites, most of the emerging national marine conservation areas and the majority of national parks have depended, and will always depend, on the extraordinary sense of sharing, the pragmatic wisdom and the deeply cooperative spirit of Aboriginal peoples. In return, far more must be done to meet the aspirations of aboriginal peoples for tourism benefits, opportunities for youth, and the protection and presentation of Aboriginal heritage.

Equally important is the requirement to respect existing Aboriginal and treaty rights, obligations under land claim settlements, and also to show consideration for the timelines and decision-making processes of Aboriginal groups.

III. The Creation of the External Relations and Visitor Experience Directorate

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, together with the participants at the Minister’s Round Table held in 2005, called for Parks Canada to invest in public education and the enhancement of visitor experiences as a means of creating a broader culture of conservation. The Agency responded organizationally by creating a new directorate of External relations and Visitor Experience. Activities carried out by the new Directorate will help Parks Canada better understand and serve the interests of Canadians, offer opportunities for them to enjoy relevant and educational experiences, coordinate outreach efforts more effectively and foster personal relationships between Canadians and their heritage places. However, full implementation of such activities across the Agency will take some time to accomplish.

IV. Establishment Investment for New National Parks and National Marine Conservation Areas

The Government provided $144 million for the establishment of new national parks and national marine conservation areas. This will enable the Parks Canada Agency to move forward toward the completion of the systems of national parks and national marine conservation areas.

Accountability and Performance Measurement

Management has established systems and practices designed to provide reasonable assurance of the fairness and reliability of the Agency’s performance information including that associated with its sustainable development strategies. Parks Canada is continually improving its financial and performance information through the introduction of new tools that will provide better measures of performance and by constantly striving to hone and enhance its collection of data.

The Agency’s senior management oversees preparation of the SDS and approves the final product.