Introduction

The 17th annual Banff National Park Planning Forum (Forum) was held on November 19 and 20, 2014 in the Story Hall (Cave and Basin) and Harkin Hall (Administration Building). The focus for the Forum was based on the National Conservation Plan’s broad themes of conserve, restore and connect. The two-day event consisted of three parts: a) a community open house; b) a Round Table member meeting and; c) an evening Year-in-Review with open question-and-answer period.

This document is a summary of the 2014 proceedings.

A. Community Open House

The Planning Forum (Forum) began with an evening Community Open House at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. The goal of the four-hour session was to provide stakeholders, members of the public and media with a behind-the-scenes look at recent achievements in Banff National Park as they related to Park Management Plan (PMP) objectives and the Government of Canada’s National Conservation Plan (NCP). A total of ninety-six people attended, with many spending up to 1.5 hours on site as they engaged in discussions with subject matter experts and managers.

Under the NCP’s themes of conserve, restore and connect, subject-matter experts and managers engaged attendees in informal discussions with a spotlight on:

  • protecting park resources while connecting Canadians to Canada's natural and cultural heritage (the Cave and Basin National Historic Site);
  • international leaders in conservation (aquatic and grizzly bear management);
  • connecting Canadians through meaningful visitor experiences (camping offer, winter offers and wildlife crossing exhibit);
  • restoration and connection (asset renewal);
  • building support for Canada's natural and cultural treasures (volunteer program); and
  • protecting park resources while connecting Canadians to meaningful visitor experience (Bow Valley Action Plan).

B. Year-in-Review and Question & Answer Session

The Forum continued with the public Year-in-Review and question-and-answer session in Harkin Hall. A total of 45 people attended the two-hour session, of which the majority were Banff residents who had attended in previous years. Media on-site included the Calgary Herald, the Bow Valley Crag and Canyon and Banff Centre Radio.

Mountain Park Executive Director Pat Thomsen began the evening with a speech that outlined Parks Canada from the national perspective. Banff Field Unit Superintendent Dave McDonough then presented highlights of Banff National Park’s accomplishments (Year-in-Review document) under the continued themes of conserve, restore, connect, for fiscal year 2013-14, and the first nine months of 2014. The evening ended with an open question-and answer period with Superintendent McDonough. In contrast to previous years, few questions were posed by audience members. However, a number of those who did ask questions expressed the importance of the Year-in-Review to them and commended Parks Canada for their efforts over the past year.