1. CPAWS STATEMENT: This new paved corridor through Jasper poses serious risks to wildlife, including endangered caribou and grizzly bears.
97% of Jasper National Park has been designated as Wilderness Area where facilities are restricted to trails, backcountry campgrounds, alpine huts, trail shelters and patrol cabins and sections of the park continue to have no facilities. The declared wilderness area represents more than 9,700 square kilometer of land. It should be noted that only 1% of the Park is zoned Outdoor Recreation, which includes the lands on which the proposed trail would be constructed. Overall, 99.99 percent of Jasper National Park would not be affected by the proposed trail. Furthermore, a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment will be carried-out prior to any project approval.
As is confirmed in the Parks Canada documentation, ensuring that the trail runs roughly parallel to the Icefields Parkway is mitigating environmental impacts. For the most part, the trail would be 20 to 30 meters away from the highway, providing a comfortable and secure experience for visitors to enjoy beautiful views and vistas, while ensuring environmental impacts of important wilderness areas are minimized. It is making use of existing disturbed areas, like other trails and old paved roads.
2. CPAWS STATEMENT: Cycling through grizzly habitat also poses risks to trail users.
By constructing parts of the trail 20 to 30 meters from the Parkway this will ensure a significantly safer experience for current users but will also provide a new visitor experience for Canadian families with younger children that would not otherwise feel safe cycling on the Parkway. Parks Canada is an expert in wildlife management and has a proven track record mitigating issues such as humans being in close proximity to grizzly habitat.
3. CPAWS STATEMENT: The project contradicts the federal government’s commitment to limit development in our national parks, and Parks Canada’s legal mandate to prioritize ecological integrity in all aspects of park management. It also ignores Canada’s global responsibility to protect World Heritage Sites.
On May 12,2016 in the House of Commons, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister responsible for Parks Canada, made the following statement in response to a similar statement:
“Mr. Speaker, Parks Canada places belong to all Canadians. We are committed to the ecological integrity of our national parks. We are also committed to making investments that ensure that Canadians have the opportunity to enjoy our parks. This investment in Jasper National Park follows this principle.
Also, in May 2017 she is quoted in a Jasper National Park press release as follows:
Through infrastructure investments at Parks Canada places, we are creating middle class jobs and sustained economic growth, while ensuring high-quality and meaningful visitor experiences.”
4. CPAWS STATEMENT: The $87 million should be invested in Parks Canada’s conservation, science and education programs, which were cut dramatically in recent years.
As a result of the 2012 Federal Budget, the Visitors Experience Program of Parks Canada was reduced 3 times more ($16.6M) than reductions to the Heritage Conservation programs ($5.5M) as per financial report posted on Parks Canada’s web site (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/
Furthermore, based on a response by the Horourable Catherine Mckenna to an environmental petition in February 2016, it was communicated to the requestor that the overall number of employees in the Resource Conservation Program of Parks Canada had in fact increased by 4 individuals between 2011 and 2015
The recent re-introduction of bison in Banff National Park is a practical example of the significant investments Parks Canada is making in its conservation program.
5. CPAWS STATEMENT: The Icefields Trail proposal was developed behind closed doors by Parks Canada, which is contrary to the government’s commitment to open, transparent decision-making.
The proposed trail would contribute to the future condition of the Parkway as defined in the 2010 Jasper National Park Management Plan.
As part of its major national Infrastructure Program, the Liberal Government announced in its 2016 Federal Budget the investment in the Environmentally-Friendly Trail. Information relating to intitiatives included in the Federal Budget, such as the Icefields Trail Project could not be shared by Parks Canada Officials before the Budget was tabled in the House of Commons as it is subject to Budget confidentiality.