Statement from Minister McKenna on Waterton Lakes National Park visitor centre

November 15, 2017

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, today issued the following statement on the Waterton Lakes National Park visitor centre:

"Parks Canada manages our national heritage places on behalf of all Canadians and for all Canadians. More than 500,000 visitors each year enjoy Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada has a responsibility to ensure it is effectively serving the needs of these visitors.

Over the past several years, Parks Canada has been assessing the most appropriate location for a new Waterton Lakes visitor centre.  In March 2016, Parks Canada announced that it had selected a location within the Waterton townsite at Block 39 as the site that would best serve the needs of visitors to the Park and would have the least environmental impact.

At my request, my Parliamentary Secretary, Jonathan Wilkinson, travelled to Waterton on August 31, 2017, to meet with community organizations regarding Parks Canada’s decision. I would like to thank everyone involved in these meetings for their time and effort, and for generously sharing their perspectives on this national park that so many Canadians treasure.

After hearing from community groups at these meetings and after the Parliamentary Secretary and I subsequently considered the views of stakeholders and reviewed how Parks Canada came to its decision, I have concluded that the selection by Parks Canada of the Block 39 townsite location was the appropriate decision. A new visitor centre in the Waterton townsite will meet the present and future needs of Waterton Lakes National Park and is in the best interest of the Park, its environment, visitors, and all Canadians.

Parks Canada will continue to work closely with all partners and stakeholders as the new visitor centre project moves forward."

Parks Canada to host public open house for new Waterton Lakes visitor centre design options

April 26, 2017

Join Parks Canada on Saturday, April 29, in Waterton Lakes National Park for a public open house on the design options for the new visitor centre. Interested Canadians will have the opportunity to speak with project leads to learn about the project, and provide input to help shape the look, feel and function of the new facility.

The open house will take place at the Waterton Community Centre from 1-4 p.m. Visitors can view displays of the three design options prepared by the FWBA Architects.

Once a final design option is chosen, this facility will welcome Canadians, along with visitors from around the world, and provide them with opportunities to learn about the park’s cultural and environmental significance and its status as part of a World Heritage Site and the world's first International Peace Park.

Interested Canadians unable to participate in the open house can continue to share their views on the three design options by visiting letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca until May 12.

Quick Facts:

  • In July 2015, the Government of Canada announced funding of $7.6 million for the new visitor centre in Waterton Lakes National Park. Construction of the new visitor centre will begin in 2018 with an expected opening in 2020.
  • Built in 1958, the size and location of the existing Visitor Reception Centre can no longer support the over 500,000 visitors the park receives annually nor met the needs and evolving expectations of today`s visitors, with over 45% of them being new visitors, and 98% of all visitors to the park visiting the townsite.
  • Over five years, Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion to support infrastructure work in visitor, heritage, waterway, and highway assets across the country. Waterton Lakes National Park will receive approximately $100 million to ensure the quality and reliability of visitor facilities so Canadians can continue to connect with nature and learn about our heritage.

Parks Canada seeks public input on design of new visitor centre in Waterton Lakes National Park

March 31, 2017

Parks Canada is inviting Canadians from across the country to share their views on three design options for the new visitor centre in Waterton Lakes National Park. Canadians can provide their input from April 3rd to May 12th, 2017, to help shape the look, feel, and function of the new facility, both inside and out. 

As Parks Canada’s places belong to all Canadians, we want to ensure the new visitor centre in Waterton Lakes National Park meets the diverse and evolving needs of all visitors for generations to come.

To participate in the consultation and learn about the planning process, visit www.letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca or join Parks Canada in Waterton on April 29th, 2017, for a public open house. All feedback received will be carefully reviewed and considered in the decision-making process. 

Following the public input stage, Parks Canada will report back on what was heard about the design options and the website will provide updates on the project until the final design is announced in September. 

The new visitor centre and its location within the townsite will offer visitors a better level of service and enhanced visitor experiences through a full range of services and interpretive programming throughout the year. This facility will welcome Canadians, along with visitors from around the world, and provide them with opportunities to learn about the park’s cultural and environmental significance and its status as part of a World Heritage Site and the world's first International Peace Park. 

The plan for the new visitor centre is based on the Waterton Community Plan and the Waterton Lakes National Park Management Plan.

Contract awarded for new visitor centre

August, 2016 

Parks Canada is announcing that, following a competitive process, a contract has been awarded to FWBA Architects for the design of the new Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Centre located at Block 39 within the townsite. FWBA Architects, a Lethbridge architecture firm, will be the primary consultant for the architectural design of this project.

The design options will present the look and function of the building, both inside and out, and its relationship to the adjacent areas and the townsite, in addition to how the visitor centre will be integrated into broader parking and way-finding projects for the community.

Parks Canada thanks all those who attended the recent public engagement session on the new visitor centre to present information and share a range of views on the new location. Parks Canada will be moving forward with the new facility in the townsite because it meets the evolving needs of visitors and the community. The decision to locate the visitor centre within the community of Waterton is founded in the Waterton Community Plan and the Waterton Lakes National Park Management Plan. This location will allow Parks Canada to achieve key management plan and community plan objectives, and provide a better level of service and enhanced experiences to all visitors.

Parks Canada is committed to working collaboratively with all interested Canadians in the planning of this essential facility to welcome visitors. Opportunities for public input on the design of the new visitor centre will be provided as the project moves forward. Additional details about the project and future public engagement will be forthcoming.

Community engagement sessions

Updated June 21, 2016

Parks Canada held community engagement sessions on the new visitor centre on June 18 and 19, 2016.

On June 18, Parks Canada provided an electronic presentation which included an overview of the project, an explanation of the need for a new visitor centre, direction from guiding documents and how the location was chosen. The presentation also explained how the new visitor centre relates to its surroundings and is integrated with other investments in the townsite, such as new visitor parking and improved way-finding.

Parks Canada also engaged in discussions on how the community can shape the new visitor centre project moving forward, including input during the planning and design phases to address any concerns such as traffic congestion, improved way-finding and the overall vision for the new visitor centre.

On June 19, the sessions focused on strengthening the collaborative relationship between Parks Canada and the public in areas of common interest and identifying solutions that can move the new visitor centre project forward successfully.

Parks Canada is committed to working with interested Canadians to have a new visitor centre that will ensure the highest level of service to park visitors, while contributing to a vibrant community for decades to come.

Download the Parks Canada New Visitor Centre in Waterton Lakes National Park presentation (PDF, 5.72 MB).

A copy of the notes from the community engagement session are available upon request. Please send an email to: waterton.superintendent@pc.gc.ca