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Rocky Mountain Outlook Letter to the Editor by AMPPE Board Member Crosbie Cotton regarding Sunshine Parking Solutions:

When congestion recently became a problem impacting the quality of the visitor experience at La Mauricie National Park in Quebec, Parks Canada’s ecologist team leader determined “two new parking lots will be added to the infrastructures of St-Mathieu-du-Parc to meet customer needs and ease congestion during peak hour at the main parking lot.

“The main interventions consist of tree clearing, removal of a pit privy for its replacement by a holding tank system, blasting rock, excavation and backfilling, slopes remodelling and leveling, compaction and installation of an inorganic or paved surface,” reads last summer’s project description.

The expansion was considered essential by the park management team in the community and it made both environmental and economic sense for Parks Canada, which covers construction costs.

The permit states: “All reasonable alternatives to the activity have been considered and evaluated. It was decided that only this option was valid and feasible. It should be mentioned that the entrance of the Saint-Mathieu side of the park is cramped and poorly positioned to accommodate large numbers of visitors thus affecting the quality of the experience and increasing the waiting time of visitors. The other options are not feasible from a functional, economic and environmental point of view.”

Parks Canada says La Mauricie National Park is a remarkable example of Laurentian landscape marked by a human presence, including the passage of Indigenous peoples, dating back more than 5,000 years.

Covering an area considerably less than 10 per cent of Banff National Park, La Mauricie contains 150 lakes, ponds and bogs as well as many watersheds. In 2020, the park will celebrate 50 years of action in conservation and opportunities for its 180,000 annual visitors to get closer to nature. In contrast, Banff National Park, which the same year will celebrate its 135th birthday, hosted about four million

visitors last year. Sunshine in winter attracts triple La Mauricie’s yearly totals.

In Newfoundland, Gudie Hutchings, parliamentary secretary for Tourism and Small Business, has announced multiple projects, including a $3.1 million expansion of the parking lot and washrooms at the Western Brook Pond boat tour facility at Gros Morne National Park. Mr. Hutchings made the announcement on behalf of Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna.

Ironically, in direct contradiction, senior Parks Canada officials in Banff used the Minister’s Mandate Letter as one reason they could not approve reasonable parking options Sunshine Village advanced to solve the resort’s winter parking shortage.

Unlike at La Mauricie and Gros Morne – there are many other recent parking expansions in national parks – I believe Banff officials intend to aggravate the situation and create havoc by arbitrarily banning overflow parking on the access road next winter.

Sunshine Village has a special website showcasing progressive parking options it has advanced, none of which infringe on land zoned wilderness.

More than 1,800 people have used the website – SunshineParkingSolution.com – to send an email to Ms. McKenna and Prime Minister Trudeau seeking the same common sense Parks Canada has applied elsewhere in Canada.

Crosbie Cotton,

Sunshine Village

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