Parks Canada’s vision and mandate

Agency Vision

Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.

Agency Mandate

On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Mandate Priority – Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Protect our National Parks by limiting development within them, and where possible, work with nearby communities to help grow local eco-tourism industries and create jobs.

Let's Talk Parks, Canada!

Participants of the 2017 Minister’s Round Table raised several concerns related to development activity in Parks Canada’s protected areas.

Topic What We Will Do
Commercialization and Development Undertake a review of development and land use management decision-making tools to ensure a consistent and transparent process for development decisions at Parks Canada places.

Ensure that the highest standards of environmental assessment are applied to new development and redevelopment proposals in national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites.
Transparency and Public Input Ensure research, data, environmental assessments, and monitoring reports are made publicly available.

Ensure there is public input into accountability sessions such as the Minister’s Round Table, environmental assessments, and development proposals.

The Minister also unequivocally reaffirmed that the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity will be the first priority in decision-making by Parks Canada, as is set out in subsection 8(2) of the Canada National Parks Act. This will also be reiterated in the new National Planning Permit Process.

What is a Planning Permit Process?

In the field of land use planning, “development” can mean any change in the use of land or a building, construction of buildings or structures, demolition, or renovation in planned development areas.

A “planning permit process” is a way to exercise control over how land may be developed through a set of steps that an applicant must go through before receiving approval of an application from the local government.

The permit process typically includes:

  • Pre-application meeting
  • Application submission and fee payment
  • Community notification and consultation
  • Permitting decisions
  • Objections and appeals
  • Post approval (i.e.; construction, inspections, compliance activities, etc.)

At the municipal level, a planning permit process is mandated by provincial planning legislation, along with requirements for other key planning documents in municipalities such as zoning bylaws or official plans.

What is Parks Canada’s Role in Land Use Planning?

Parks Canada is the largest federal land owner. Through its mandate to protect and present heritage places, it must maintain both the interests of environmental protection and the interests of the visiting public.

While provincial planning legislation does not apply to Parks Canada places, there are several legislative and regulatory requirements that aim to provide a level of development control for protected areas, including:

  • the management planning and community planning processes,
  • regulatory authorities for permitting and zoning, and
  • prohibitions for construction or occupation of lands.

Parks Canada has multiple planning permit processes for the different places under its management.

  • Current regulations under the Canada National Parks Act set out the permitting authorities as well as zoning.
  • These regulations are implemented locally in tandem with land use policies.

Why is Parks Canada looking to update the existing Planning Permit Process?

Parks Canada wishes to update the existing 1960s era regulations to:

  • Modernize the permit process to ensure continued protection of heritage places
  • Ensure Parks Canada is keeping pace with best practices in land use planning
  • Ensure national consistency
  • Provide efficient, predictable, responses on permit applications
  • Ensure stakeholders have help in navigating the permit process

Parks Canada is engaging the public on how to modernize the permit processes to ensure protection of heritage places and to provide efficient, predictable, responses on permit applications.

New regulations, tentatively titled Land Use Management Regulations, will set out the planning permit process.

  • Supporting land use planning policies will be revised once new regulations have been established.

Why is Parks Canada Conducting Public Consultations?

Parks Canada is consulting with Indigenous groups, stakeholders, third parties, and the public to discuss the current processes for construction and renovation permit applications to ensure that it is exercising sufficient development control for protected places.

Parks Canada would like your input to:

  • to understand the main concerns with the existing process and
  • identify key ways to improve current regulations and policies.

These consultations will allow stakeholders to:

  • review a discussion paper on municipal best practices;
  • identify key improvements to current regulations, land use polices and processes;
  • understand how Parks Canada is conducting this regulatory and policy review, and the steps involved; and
  • provide input into a new planning permit process.

Once new regulations are created, existing policies and directives (i.e., architectural guidelines, local zoning, setbacks, etc.) will be revised to streamline operations.

What are We looking for Feedback on?

We are consulting on the following broad questions:

  • What principles should be followed when evaluating development applications?
  • How can Parks Canada better help applicants through the permit process?
  • What are the barriers to applying for construction permits from Parks Canada?
  • Are there existing best practices in land use planning and development that could be successfully implemented in the Parks Canada context?
  • What changes to existing regulations (including the Cottage Regulations) would make them more effective?
  • Are there key ways the permitting process can be improved to reduce social impacts (gender/disability/age/education/geography/etc.) and administrative burden?

More detailed information can be found in our Discussion Paper and online:

  • Responses to these more specific questions will be helpful as we begin the regulatory development process.

We are also interested in knowing:

  • How can Parks Canada make its regulations (e.g., the Cottage Regulations) easier to interpret and, therefore, effective?
  • Are there key ways the permitting process can be improved to reduce social impacts (gender/disability/age/education/geography/etc.) and administrative burden?

What are We looking for Feedback on?

Authorities in the following regulations under the Canada National Parks Act are being reviewed:

  • National Parks Building Regulations (1968)
  • National Parks of Canada Cottages Regulations (1979)
  • National Parks Signs Regulations (1956)
  • Town of Jasper Zoning Regulations (1968)

These will be replaced with a modern permit process contained in the new “Land Use Management Regulations”.

  • Depending on public feedback, amendments may be needed to other existing regulations to coordinate new processes.

A planning permit process for all protected areas, both inside and outside national parks, is being considered to support consistency and effective implementation.

What is Not Included in this Review?

While directly linked to the planning review process, these consultations are not about making changes to:

  • Management Plans
  • Community Plans
  • Commercial caps for townsites
  • Boundaries of townsites
  • Site specific zoning
  • Lease and licensing terms, arrangements and processes
  • Commercial ski area land management planning processes

We are, however, considering how a new planning permit process can support these important authorities and processes.

  • Once we have an idea of what regulatory authorities are required, a review of existing policies and land use plans will begin to ensure harmonization.

How can you participate?

Information on the project, including dates and locations for public open houses and how to provide feedback is posted on our website:

All consultation documents can be downloaded from this site such as:

  • Presentation to Stakeholders
  • Discussion Paper
  • Backgrounder

Please provide any comments and feedback on this consultation process and our discussion documents to:

Next steps

The work will unfold in a step-wise fashion. With your input during consultations:

  • New regulations will be drafted.
  • Land Use Policies and directives will be revised.
  • New regulations will be brought into force.

As the consultation process concludes we will also post our What We Heard Report.

Your input will guide the creation of a new national planning permit process to ensure the continued protection and presentation of Parks Canada places.


Activity Dates
Public meetings and online comment period July to October 2018
What We Heard Report finalized Fall 2018
Regulatory drafting Winter to Spring 2018
Draft regulation and the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) posted online for comment
  • Canada Gazette, Part I (30 to 90 day public comment period)
    Spring 2019
    Refinement of the draft regulations based on feedback received Fall 2019
    Finalized regulations posted online
    • Canada Gazette, Part II
      Winter 2020
      Coming into force of the regulations To Be Determined