By Jeanette Cowen

A family walking on Attikamek Trail.
Attikamek Trail-an urban oasis

What exactly is involved in managing a national historic site? How and why does Parks Canada make the decisions it does? The answer lies in the site’s management plan, and we need your input!

All Parks Canada places are legislated to complete management plans every ten years. The plans are designed to take into consideration important factors related to the site’s cultural and natural resources, visitor experience offer, relationships with stakeholders, Indigenous partners and the public, as well as physical assets and any species at risk that may be present. The plan is our guiding document and we refer to it constantly when making decisions that affect the site. The plan keeps us accountable to Canadians and it offers everyone a chance to understand why the site should be protected and presented, which important issues we intend to tackle over the next ten years, how we propose to approach these issues, and what the site will look like when we succeed.

The process is a long one, taking approximately twelve to eighteen months depending on the site and the complexity of the plan. The last management plan for the Sault Ste. Marie Canal was completed in 2007 so we are striving to complete a new plan by the end of 2017.

The first step was an internal exercise designed to examine the current state of the site. It is designed to highlight areas in which the site is doing well and others that may need work. Once this assessment is complete, several key issues are chosen and these key issues and opportunities will become strategies in the management plan. Desired results will be shaped into objectives with measureable targets for the next ten years. But before we go too much further we need input!

The consultation phase of the planning process is crucial. It is during this time that we reach out to our Indigenous partners and key stakeholders to seek their feedback on the key issues and opportunities and listen to their thoughts and opinions. The comments we receive will help shape the draft management plan which we then share through public meetings and online forums where comments can be submitted. Once we gather all this feedback, we are able to complete the final plan which goes through several levels of approval before being brought to the Minster of the Environment and Climate Change and eventually tabled in Parliament.

The consultation phase for the Sault Ste. Marie Canal management plan will begin in early 2017. To keep up to date on the most recent information about the plan’s progress and to learn more about how you can be involved, please consult the Sault Canal’s management planning page. We look forward to hearing from you as we set our sights on the future of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site!

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