The State of Canada's Natural and Historic Places 2011
The Next Century of Canada's Natural and Historic Places
Canada's system of 213 heritage places is a symbol of the pride and commitment Canadians have to nature and to their history. This treasured system began with a single act - the creation of Banff National Park (1885) - that spawned a legacy for generations of Canadians. Today, 126 years after Banff was established, Parks Canada faces new challenges and opportunities in ensuring continued relevance to Canadians.
Current and future challenges
It is well documented that Canadian society is changing, as are travel and leisure patterns. Declining visitation to heritage places and low awareness of Parks Canada in part reflect these broader social changes. For Canada's system of heritage places to be relevant to future generations, it must align with the values of Canadians. Parks Canada must be present and able to connect in meaningful ways with Canadians, where they live, work and play.
Parks Canada is the steward of a large asset base, which is aging and in need of repair or upgrading to meet the changing needs of Canadians. Without sustained investment, the functionality and operability of some assets may be at risk; in some cases, components of Canada's historic fabric may be permanently lost.
Climate change is an issue that poses challenges to heritage places. Some natural environments known and cherished by Canadians are and will continue to undergo changes, including potential loss of iconic features, shifts in ecosystems, and the introduction or loss of particular flora or fauna. Storm surges associated with higher water levels and extreme events are threatening some of Canada's cultural heritage, notably those along shorelines.
Canadians place value in the idea of a system of heritage places. The majority of Canadians consider it important that heritage places exist, even if they never visit them. Over the coming years, Parks Canada plans to build on its successes and accomplishments, and seize exciting new opportunities to connect with Canadians, and adapt to a changing and complex environment.
Parks Canada plans to tap into the power of social media and other new technologies to engage Canadians in new ways, and to bring the spirit, wonder, and awe of these places to a new generation. Parks Canada also recognizes that to extend its reach, especially in Canada's largest cities, through media and outreach, it needs to work with partners. It will work with new and non-traditional partners to reach Canadians where they are.
Parks Canada will continue to grow the family of heritage places so that they are reflective of a changing Canada. Rouge Valley, situated in Canada's largest city (Toronto) is in the process of being transferred to Parks Canada's network as a national urban park.
Parks Canada will continue to maintain the high quality of its protected heritage places that Canadians expect. This attention to quality and integrity will ensure that these places will remain a national and international benchmark in conservation and visitor experience, valued both at home and abroad.
Entering the second century
Many other external factors influence Parks Canada's heritage places and the level of visitation - everything from economic cycles to climate change. We will adapt to those circumstances, and continue to address the issues that we can influence. To that end, Parks Canada will maintain our heritage places and inspire Canadians to learn about and appreciate, explore and support the legacy we protect and build upon.