Canada Creates 10 New Parks, Five
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, October 15, 2002 (ENS)
- The government of Canada has announced its intention
to create 10 new parks and five new national marine conservation
areas over the next five years. It is the most ambitious
plan to expand and protect the country's natural areas
in 117 years, since Canada's first national park was established
in 1885 at Banff, Alberta.
The plan, which will expand the Canadian parks system
by almost 50 percent, builds on commitments made by Prime
Minister Jean Chretien at the World Summit on Sustainable
"Canada is blessed with exceptional natural treasures.
We owe it to Canadians and to the world to be wise stewards
of these lands and waters," said Chretien, announcing
the parks expansion October 3. "This action plan is a
breakthrough in conservation for Canadians."
The Prime Minister's goal is to represent each of Canada’s
39 natural regions with at least one national park.
"We will work with all of our partners," Chretien said,
"the provinces and territories, Aboriginal and rural communities,
industry, environmental groups and others to complete
Alison Woodley of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness
Society (CPAWS), said, "Canada has one of the last
opportunities in the world to protect vast stretches of
magnificent wilderness for future generations. The Prime
Minister has clearly recognized this great opportunity
and we applaud him for that."
Specific sites for national parks have been selected
in seven natural regions - British Columbia's Gulf Islands,
Manitoba's lowland forests, the East Arm of Great Slave
Lake in the Northwest Territories, Bathurst Island and
Ukkusiksalik in Nunavut, and Labrador's Torngat Mountains
and Mealy Mountains.
Sites for the three remaining national parks are being
identified by Parks Canada.
To protect portions of its coastline, the longest of
any nation in the world, Canada intends to establish five
new national marine conservation areas, adding an estimated
15,000 square kilometres to the system in ecologically
unrepresented marine regions.
Three sites have been identified - two in British Columbia
- in Gwaii Haanas off the Queen Charlotte Islands, and
in the southern Strait of Georgia. The third is in Western
Lake Superior. Sites for the remaining two marine conservation
areas are yet to be finalized.
"National parks are in our hearts, they are important
to our identity as Canadians. With this far-reaching plan,
we are fulfilling a Canadian dream," said Heritage Minister
Sheila Copps. "We are safeguarding some of our most valued
natural areas for generations to come."
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society welcomed the
move, but called on the government to underwrite its announcement
with funding commitments.
Harvey Locke, CPAWS vice president for conservation,
said, "It is clear that parks will not be established
nor will the declining health of existing national parks
be addressed without money committed to the cause. We
will be expecting the government to allocate funds in
the next budget to do this work."
The Green Budget Coalition, a broad coalition of environmental
groups in Canada has recommended an investment of C$165
million over five years for new national parks and national
marine conservation areas.
In addition to creating the new parks and marine reserves,
the government has pledged to "accelerate its actions"
over the next five years to improve the ecological integrity
of Canada's 39 existing national parks.
This will implement the action plan arising from the
Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National
Parks, whose report was endorsed by Copps in April 2000.
The panel recommended an investment of C$328 million
over five years to restore the ecological integrity of
Canada’s existing national parks.
The government said that funds to support this plan
"will be included in the fiscal framework."
Negotiations will continue in the coming months to advance
and finalize agreements for particular sites.