Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks
After an icy April in Ottawa, the sun shone bright on Major Hill Park on May 7, 2018 as Environment and Climate Change MInister Catherine McKenna announced her formal response to the Let’s Talk Parks consultation. McKenna noted that she has heard loud and clear from the 37,000 Canadians—including many Nature Canada supporters–who participated in the consultation. She put forward three priorities for Parks Canada arising from Let’s Talk Parks:
- Protect and restore our national parks and historic sites through focused investments, working with indigenous peoples and provinces and territories to ensure the ecological integrity is the first priority in decision making
- Enable people to further discover and connect with our parks and heritage through innovative ideas that help share these special places with Canadians.
- Put in place measures that sustain for generations to come the incredible value both economic and ecological that our parks and historic sites provide for communities. The value they bring to fighting climate change, protecting wild life, including species at risk and shaping our Canadian identity and the great economic opportunities that they bring.
Nature Canada agrees with these priorities subject to the overriding imperative of ensuring that Canada’s parks are protected and sustained for future generations. However, Nature Canada is troubled by the fact that the proposed Impact Assessment Act currently being debated in Parliament will not legally require impact assessments of development projects—even construction of skiing venues for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Banff National Park!! So we are not convinced that the Parks Canada is committed to using key tools to ensure that National Parks are in fact protected.
McKenna also announced that entry to National Parks will be free for children aged 17 years and under. As stewards of the future, it is important for them to have a strong appreciation of our natural world: “When you connect with parks, you understand the critical importance of protecting them.” McKenna reiterated.
She outlined how the historic federal investment of 1.3 billion in nature conservation, announced in Budget 2018, will enable protection of Canada’s natural places and recovery and preservation of species at risk. Progress is being made toward achieving Canada’s international commitment to conserving 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean by 2020. However, federal and provincial governments need to develop plans to establish more protected areas within their respective jurisdictions; Nature Canada will be working with provincial and local nature groups across Canada to push governments to complete these plans and get on with identifying important sites across Canada to be protected.
Funds from Budget 2018 will also make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and build Indigenous capacity to conserve land and species. The federal government has made it a priority to forge new relationships with First Nations and Inuit and Metis people based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnerships. Nature Canada is convinced that there is a tremendous opportunity to protect ecosystems through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) established and managed by Indigenous organizations. Potential IPCAs include the North French River watershed in Moose Cree traditional territory in northern Ontario, and Edehzhie in Deh Cho traditional territory in western Northwest Territories.
For more details on the Ministers Round table 2017, visit here.
Read more about Lets Talk Parks Canada.