Summary of issues
Management planning cycle
Each national park requires a management plan that describes its vision and broad direction. Current legislation requires that every management plan be reviewed a minimum of every ten years and any resulting amendments be tabled in Parliament. The management planning process involves: assessing the current state of park resources; determining key trends, pressures and opportunities; setting priorities; and seeking input from all Canadians.
The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, one based on the recognition of rights, respect, trust, co-operation, and partnership.
Canada’s seven southern mountain national parks were created between 1885 and 1914. Legislation and management of the new parks did not incorporate Indigenous traditional knowledge or recognise long-standing cultural uses of the landscape. Many traditional activities of Indigenous peoples were viewed as inconsistent with the management of the early national parks. Consequently, many Indigenous groups lost physical ties and cultural connections with places of importance within their traditional territories.
Parks Canada recognises the rich history of Indigenous peoples on the landscape and is committed to strengthening relationships and deepening Indigenous involvement in the mountain park management plan reviews.
Parks Canada will work closely with Indigenous partners with connections to the mountain parks to identify areas of interest for future collaboration and opportunities to further Indigenous participation in park management and operations.
Asset sustainability in the Mountain Parks
Parks Canada is investing over $3 billion between 2016-2021 to implement infrastructure projects to address deferred work and improve the condition of its contemporary assets and heritage structures. This investment will help to address the loss of irreplaceable built heritage of national significance, renew visitor facilities, improve canal and townsite infrastructure and ensure highways that pass through heritage places are safe and accessible for travelers. With these improvements, Parks Canada can continue to welcome Canadians and visitors to its heritage places so that they can appreciate, experience and learn more about their natural and cultural heritage.
Current management direction in the mountain parks focuses on the need to maintain and upgrade infrastructure based on the needs and expectations of visitors. Safety remains a top priority but visitor satisfaction is also of utmost importance. Infrastructure design that strengthens wildlife connections and minimizes environmental impacts is also prevalent in the current mountain park management plans.
Improving all assets in the mountain parks to good condition remains a priority as the mountain park management plans are reviewed. Maintaining assets in good condition over the long term is a common challenge, especially in light of increasing visitation and resulting pressure on, and demand for, facilities and services.
The mountain national parks protect a dynamic ecosystem that is home to many species of plants and animals. Natural processes such as wildfire, avalanches, glacier and river dynamics help to create and maintain the range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats that support this rich diversity of life. Human use of the land has also had a profound influence on the ecosystems we see today. Throughout much of the 20th century, humans worked to suppress wildfires in mountain forests. This resulted in forest ecosystems that are more uniform in age and less diverse than would be expected. Construction of infrastructure such as roads, railways, townsites, and visitor facilities fragmented natural habitat and in some cases reduced or eliminated opportunities for fish to move between different portions of their aquatic environments. In some water bodies, non-native fish were introduced that out-competed or hybridized with native species. Parks Canada has been working diligently to address some of these historical effects by restoring fire to the landscape, establishing growth limits for townsites and other built infrastructure, improving terrestrial and aquatic connectivity where it was constrained, and recovering native fish populations in selected water bodies. While this work continues, new challenges emerge: climate change has the potential to alter significantly our mountain ecosystems; an increasing number of native species are becoming at risk; and the threat of new invasive species is increasing.
Do you support the work Parks Canada is doing to maintain and restore the ecological integrity of the mountain parks? What are the key ecological challenges you feel need to be addressed in the next 10 years?
In 2017/2018, the mountain parks hosted over 5 million visitors. This is an increase of about 30% since the last park management plans for the mountain park were written in 2010. As a result of this increase, the mountain parks are experiencing significant congestion and pressures on infrastructure at certain locations and during certain times of the year. Since 2010, numerous actions have been undertaken to ensure continued quality visitor experiences. Proactively planning for visitor use will maximize Parks Canada’s ability to encourage access to the mountain parks as well as to protect valuable natural and cultural resources. The upcoming Park Management Plan review will assess current challenges in managing visitor use in the mountain parks. Future trends such as continued increasing visitation, new technologies, changes in recreational preferences and climate change will need to be considered.