Visitor Activity Guidelines
Announcement: Recreational Activities
Parks Canada is pleased to announce national policy direction concerning new recreational activities in National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas. Offering visitors a variety of opportunities to experience national protected heritage places through recreational activities is one way that the Parks Canada Agency brings its mandate of protection, education and experience to life.
Experimenting a Via Ferrata© Parks Canada
Since the inception of the new recreational activity and special event assessment process, five activities have been assessed at the national level. Activities are assessed using five core principles that stem from Parks Canada’s mandate, including respecting natural and cultural resource protection goals, facilitating opportunities for enjoyable and meaningful visitor experiences, promoting understanding and appreciation of the protected heritage place, valuing and involving local communities, and respecting the character of place.
Approval at the national level does not mean that an activity will be offered in all protected heritage places; rather it means that individual National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas are able to proceed with local assessments of these activities in order to determine whether the activity can be offered in a specific park or site. Local assessments will ensure that local environmental considerations and legislative and regulatory obligations are properly addressed and respected.
The five activities assessed at the national level are: 1) mountain biking, 2) traction kiting, 3) guided and interpreted tours that include canopy walks, zip lines, via ferrata and aerial park elements, 4) community gardens and 5) hangliding and paragliding.
Parks Canada has developed national activity guidelines for each assessed activity. These guidelines will help ensure that, where offered, activities encourage Canadians to experience and form connections to their national heritage places in a manner that respects important natural and cultural resources and leads to their ongoing protection.
Mountain Biking in Kouchibouguac 2010© Parks Canada
Mountain Biking: Cross-country will be the principle form of mountain biking offered in national protected heritage places. Parks Canada will not offer downhill-specific trails for mountain biking. Individual parks and sites can consider working with partners to develop and manage bike parks. The Agency will continue to focus on designing, creating and managing sustainable multiple-use trails.
Traction kiting (kite-surfing, kite-skiing): can be considered in national protected heritage places. Should a local assessment be positive, then particular attention will be paid to choosing when and where traction kiting will occur, especially as it pertains to species sensitive to kite-related disturbance.
Guided interpreted canopy walks, zip lines, via ferrata and aerial parks: National protected heritage places can consider working with 3rd parties to offer guided interpreted tours that include canopy walks, zip lines, via ferrata and other elements of aerial parks. Zip lines must be integrated into a guided, interpreted tour rather than be an individual activity by itself. Infrastructure will blend with the natural environment and will be removable.
Community gardens: can be considered in national protected heritage places. Third parties will require a permit, which will list authorized seedlings to avoid illegal, alien and/or invasive species. Synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides and herbicides will not be allowed.
Non-motorized hang gliding and paragliding: has been assessed at the national level. National guidelines are being developed. Changes must be made to exclude non-motorized hang gliding and paragliding from the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations before individual national heritage places will be able to consider these activities through local assessments.
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