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Home » AMPPE in the News » MP Blake Richards stands up for concerns in Banff

November 25, 2016 – Ottawa – Yesterday, MP Blake Richards stood in the House of Commons to voice the concerns of Banff and Lake Louise businesses and residents over the lack of a plan for parking when admission to National Parks are free in 2017.

“Having free admission to all National Parks to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday is a good initiative which will enable visitors from across the country, and the world, to enjoy the natural wonders that Canada has to offer,” said Richards.  “However, there are concerns that the government does not have a logistical plan for communities, like Banff and Lake Louise, to handle the increased visitation and traffic.”

By the end of this year, it is estimated that approximately four million people will have visited Banff.  Town of Banff data shows that in the first nine months of 2016, the cumulative vehicle count per day increased by 8% from 2015.  This summer, during July and August, there were 49 days that were over the congestion threshold of 24,000 vehicles per day.

“Due to the hard work of those in our tourism industry, Banff and Lake Louise look forward to continuing to welcome more visitors again next year, however capacity for vehicle traffic is at its limits in high season and solutions are needed for 2017 and beyond,” concluded Richards. He also presented solutions suggested by AMPPE:

“I recently attended a speech given by Rex Murphy, in Banff, at the annual gala for the Association for Mountain Parks Protection & Enjoyment. Rex Murphy made a great speech on the importance of parks. I will paraphrase all of his speech into one short comment. Essentially, his point was that parks needed people as much as people needed parks. There is no question about both of those statements. People do need parks. It is where we can reconnect with nature, spend time with our families, enjoy the great outdoors, and discover part of our souls sometimes. We get so busy with day-to-day life that we sometimes forget to reconnect with ourselves. Through nature, we can find those opportunities…

The Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment advocates for what is really the mandate of Parks Canada to ensure that this balance is found… It wants to ensure there is ecological integrity, but it is there for visitor experience and for those of current and future generations, and that we can provide that quality tourism experience. When it talks about solutions, it is a group that needs to be listened to. 

The group believes there is a need for things like mass transit solutions that are in line with its environmentally responsible visitor experience. It is talking about bicycle trails to reduce vehicles and to provide environmentally friendly access. It is talking about ensuring sustainable development, engaging guests with an enhanced visitor experience, new opportunities to connect new Canadians, and those with limited mobility.

Those are the kinds of solutions being asked for and what we hear instead is a government that says that it will limit all development and put this one pillar as the only consideration. Unfortunately, that creates a situation where those who want to come, visit and experience cannot. Solutions are being put out there, and we are just not hearing anything back. We are not hearing any take-up. We are not hearing any concern about trying to provide those kinds of solutions and opportunities.

When solutions or opportunities are not offered, then we have a situation where the park will be at a capacity for vehicle traffic. Then it will come into the kinds of problems that are difficult to solve without some help and co-operation from the government and Parks Canada. I know I have had great interactions with Parks Canada, both at the CEO level and also at the local level, with our local superintendent and others. I believe they are eager to try to work with the tourism industry.”

 

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