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Wapusk National Park of Canada

Superintendent’s Update

Sheldon Kowalchuk, Acting Superintendent, Wapusk National Park and Manitoba North National Historic Sites

Wapusk News - Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Sheldon Kowalchuk Sheldon Kowalchuk
© Parks Canada

I am very pleased as the Acting Superintendent to provide an update on a variety of topics on behalf of Parks Canada and the Wapusk Management Board.

I would like to welcome some new members to the Wapusk Management Board who joined during this past year. Conway Arthurson and Randy Naismith Jr. were recently appointed as the representatives for Fox Lake Cree Nation, and John T. Williams is the new Government of Canada representative. York Factory First Nation also re-appointed Flora Beardy and Darcy Wastesicoot. To learn more about all Wapusk Management Board members, see the article "Meet the Wapusk Management Board."

In February 2012, Parks Canada continued work towards its goal of licensing long-time tour operators in Wapusk National Park (NP) under the National Parks of Canada Businesses Regulations. In 2010 Frontiers North Adventures was the first tourism company to be licensed to operate in Wapusk NP and we are pleased to announce that Wat’chee Expeditions has now also received its license. We look forward to licensing additional existing businesses and supporting others to develop a variety of new visitor experiences in the park.

New visitor opportunities, as identified in the park management plan, will become a major area of focus over the upcoming two years. Following the completion of pilot projects, the time is right to move ahead. Parks Canada will seek to identify commercial operators interested in obtaining a business licence to offer canoeing/kayaking trips on the Owl River for 2013, guided dog sledding tours and guided over-snow vehicle tours during the winter of 2013-14 and guided hiking and overnight stays for the summer of 2014.

Parks Canada is also developing a proposal to ensure that a fee structure is in place for the new activities that will occur in the park. Business operators can better plan by knowing in advance the existing and proposed new fees so these can be incorporated into their business models. Public consultation is required for proposed new fees and increases to existing fees.

Parks Canada is required to review national park management plans every five years. The first management plan for Wapusk National Park was completed in 2007; a review is therefore required for 2012. Following a recent preliminary review and consultation with the Wapusk Management Board, Parks Canada has proposed that the current plan will stand for the next five years because the direction in the plan is still current.

The Wapusk Management Board reviewed seven research and collection permit applications in March 2012. A Trapping Sub-Committee was recently re-established and will be reviewing trapping issues over the upcoming months. The sub-committee will provide recommendations to the Wapusk Management Board concerning how trapping should be managed for years to come.

The Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site (NHS) Wall Conservation Program and the Riverbank Stabilization Study at York Factory NHS have been completed. As we approach the operational season, we look forward to welcoming visitors to Prince of Wales Fort and are making plans to transition the site from one that has been active over many years as a work site for masons, archaeologists and engineers to one that focuses on providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy a memorable experience.

Parks Canada is also pleased to welcome members of the York Factory First Nation and Fox Lake Cree Nation to York Factory NHS for the York Factory Gathering planned for early August 2012.

While we are experiencing a period of change in Parks Canada, the staff and the Wapusk Management Board look forward to continuing collaborations with our many existing and new partners and stakeholders to deliver on the mandate of Parks Canada.