|Parks and Protected Areas
The fragile habitat of PEI National Park is suffering from cottage and resort development pressures
PEI National Park, one of Canadas smallest national parks, comprises 22 square kilometres. It receives more than 30,000 visitors per square kilometre each year, 50 times the visitor density of famed Banff National Park, making it one of Canadas most crowded parks.
PEI National Park provides habitat for a host of rare plant species and 256 bird species, including Atlantic Canadas most important habitat for the nationally endangered piping plover. The parks Greenwich Adjunct contains the highly sensitive parabolic dune and gegenwalle, a unique landform that is found nowhere else in North America.
Nature Canada has twice ranked PEI as Canadas most endangered national park due to threats by a range of proposed cottage and resort developments surrounding its borders.
In July 2002 St. Peters Estates Ltd. received preliminary approval to develop a resort hotel, golf course, and condominium complex on a 287-acre property next to the park. In August 2003 the same developer then proposed a new 70-lot subdivision on a separate 100 acres adjacent to the park.
Nature Canada has many concerns about these developments. Primarily, they risk substantially increasing visitor access to the fragile sand dune ecosystems of the park, increasing disturbance of nesting piping plovers on the park beach, drawing down the water table and possibly causing saltwater intrusion, and resulting in the loss of rare plant communities and wildlife habitat.
For both of these development proposals, Nature Canada called on the Minister of the Environment to undertake an environmental assessment of the proposed projects to better understand and mitigate against their impacts on PEI National Park. In both cases, the Minister denied our requests.