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AWA Letter: Jasper National Park $65.9 million trail budget announcement

May 9, 2016

May 9, 2016

The Honorable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

By email: Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca

RE: Jasper National Park Trail budget announcement

Dear Minister McKenna:

As you may know, Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) works throughout Alberta towards more representative and connected protection of the unique and vital landscapes that are the source of our clean water, clean air and wildlife habitat, including the five National Parks within the province. With over 7,000 members and supporters in Alberta and across Canada, AWA remains committed to ensuring protection of wildlife and wild places in Alberta for all Canadians.

AWA is concerned with the proposed $65.9 million dollar investment for a “new biking and walking trail in Jasper National Park in Alberta” for the following reasons:

Firstly, no public consultation for this project has occurred to our knowledge. AWA has learned that details of the plan will only be available after the full supply bill is passed. AWA is concerned that such a significant amount of taxpayer money has been allocated to a specific project without full and transparent public consultation that includes the result of a full needs assessment.

Secondly, AWA is concerned about potential impacts of this project to the rich and pristine environments within Jasper National Park. Jasper is home to important endangered caribou habitat, particularly the critical habitat of the Brazeau herd, as well as many other species at risk. It is the ministry’s responsibility to ensure ecological integrity is upheld in Jasper National Park, not primarily to provide “world-class” access to people. We firmly believe a full Environmental Impact Assessment, including a Cumulative Effects Assessment, must occur before this project is approved.

Thirdly, commercialization in the National Parks remains a major concern. AWA has written you regarding commercialization of the National Parks on December 22, 2015 and April 6, 2016, and have received no reply. We would sincerely appreciate a response to those letters, including a commitment that this project will not threaten ecological integrity in Alberta’s mountain National Parks.

We are respectfully requesting that your ministry seriously reconsider the decision to allocate 65.9 million taxpayer dollars to a biking/hiking trail, and instead allocate the moneys to projects that will restore and maintain ecological integrity, and will provide outstanding interpretive services by Parks Canada staff in Jasper National Park.

 

Sincerely,

ALBERTA WILDERNESS ASSOCIATION

Andrea Johancsik,

Conservation Specialist

 

Attached: Letters dated December 22, 2015 and April 6, 2016

cc: Alan Fehr, Jasper National Park Superintendent

Wayne Stetski, Environment Critic for the NDP

Jim Eglinski, MP for Yellowhead

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