A private company wants to build overnight accommodation at Maligne Lake, contravening Parks Canada’s policy prohibiting new commercial accommodation outside park town sites. This would put grizzly bears and a small struggling herd of four woodland caribou at risk. It would also open the door to more commercial development in all our Rocky Mountain National Parks.
Following very strong opposition from the Canadian people, including First Nations, Parks Canada turned down a proposal by Maligne Tours Ltd. (MTL) to build a high-end hotel at the north end of Maligne Lake.
However, Parks is still "accepting for further consideration" 13 other projects put forward by MTL, some of which could be very detrimental to that unique area.
Two commercial projects in particular are of major concern: 15 tent cabins and a theme-park type "wildlife maze". These projects would be built on two seperate pieces of public land adjoining MTL's present lease.
But these proposed developments are not consistent with Parks Canada's legislative and policy framework and do not meet the objectives and criteria of Jasper's management plan.
If the management plan is changed to allow these developments it would set a dangerous precedent and greatly increase the size of MTL's footprint at the north end of the lake in what Parks Canada itself had described as a "pinchpoint" in an important wildlife corridor used by grizzly bears. It is also habitat for a struggling herd of just four woodland caribou - now listed as an endangered species.
There is real concern that commercial camping in that area could see traffic on the 48-km Maligne Road at night which could jeopardize the wildlife that call this valley home. At present when the visitors leave in the evening, animals come out to feed peacefully in this important habitat.
Commercial development has gone too far in our revered national parks. Maligne Lake - probably the most iconic lake in Canada and situated in habitat of charismatic and endangered wildlife species - is the place to draw the line against it.
CPAWS works with Alberta Parks, local communities and with other conservation organizations to promote the importance of our provincial protected areas and encourage people to experience Alberta’s natural areas in sustainable ways. The CPAWS Southern Alberta outreach team attends events throughout the province promoting connection to nature and stewardship of parks and wilderness areas.
We work to ensure that park legislation and management prioritize conservation of nature and promotion of sustainable nature-based recreation. In 2011, CPAWS Southern Alberta, along with other conservation organizations, was instrumental in stopping the Province from undermining current parks legislation through revisions to the Parks Act (Bill 29).
CPAWS Southern Alberta has a classroom and outdoor education program called Discover Parks! designed to engage students in hands-on, curriculum-linked activities to discover, experience and become stewards of park ecosystems.
We need to recognize the importance of protected areas in southern Alberta and promote legislated protection of our most valuable resources - clean water, a diversity of species, open rangelands and spectacular wilderness areas – through the creation and management of protected areas.
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