Jasper’s Glacier Discovery Walk Project

Canada’s treasured Jasper National Park could be on its way to gaining a theme park-like attraction. Brewster Travel Canada, owned by a US-based company, wants to blast out the side of the cliff beside the Icefields Parkway to build the “Glacier Discovery Walk” – a massive infrastructure “skywalk”, and charge people who wish to admire the view.

CPAWS believes that this may signal the start of a renewed surge of inappropriate commercial development within our Rocky Mountain national parks. We were able to stop this trend in the 1990s in Banff. Twenty years later, it’s time to take a stand once more to protect the natural wonders of our mountain national parks.

An environmental assessment has been prepared for the proposal to construct the Brewster Travel Canada Glacier Discovery Walk at Tangle Hill on Highway 93 N in Jasper National Park. In keeping with the process outlined in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, this environmental assessment was out for public review and comment, but was closed on December 16th, 2011.  Brewster prepared a newsletter summarizing the findings of the environmental assessment. This newsletter is available on the Glacier Discovery Walk website at www.glacierdiscoverywalk.com/downloads.

The threat

After reviewing the proposal, CPAWS is opposed to the Glacier Discovery Walk for the following reasons:

  • It would set a dangerous precedent for renewed commercial development in our mountain national parks.  If this goes ahead, what will be next?
  • The long term impact on wildlife, including mountain goats and big horn sheep, cannot be predicted with confidence: there just isn’t enough data.
  • It would contravene Parks Canada’s own policy that says that “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park's purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”(Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policy, section 4.1.3). Read entire policy here.
  • There is no evidence that this would meet the objective of connecting Canadians with the natural heritage in their national parks.
  • There is little evidence that this infrastructure-focused development is what Canadians want for their national parks. The survey the company conducted was not representative of the views of all Canadians, but focused primarily on bus tour customers.

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