The federal government plans to spend an additional $39 million on infrastructure in Banff National Park, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Thursday.
"This is additional money," McKenna said, noting the commitment is over and above the funding promises for Parks Canada the Liberals made during last fall's election campaign.
"In terms of the money that was announced before, we are still proceeding," she added.
- Photographer captures Banff wolf pack taking down elk on railway overpass
- Banff avalanche survivor recounts being swept over a cliff, buried and rescued
- Parks Canada to waive entrance fees in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th
- ANALYSIS | The Rockies: How they shape us as individuals and as a city
McKenna said the funding will include:
- $14 million to "improve visitor experience," including upgrades to the Lake Louise campground as well as Peyto Lake and Bow Summit day-use areas.
- $6 million for upgrades to animal underpasses along the Trans-Canada Highway
- $1 million to "improve the natural processes" in the mountain parks through prescribed burns
The funding also includes $14.5 million to rehabilitate 47 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway on the east end of the park, including repaving some sections.
Dave McDonough, the superintendent of Banff National Park, called the funding "a great shot in the arm" and said the upgrades to animal underpasses, in particular, will protect the area's ecological integrity.
"The improvements to the wildlife corridors are critical," he said. "As you know, they've been extremely effective over the years, and this is a great opportunity to continue to improve them and ensure that they're effective going forward."
Focus on Métis heritage
Renovations to visitor centres will focus on "promoting the culture of indigenous people," McKenna said, particularly when it comes to educational components on the traditional trades of Métis people in the area.
McKenna made the announcement at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the sulphurous hot springs used for ceremonial purposes by indigenous people for centuries before becoming a major draw for tourists in the late 1800s.
The site is also credited as the birthplace of Parks Canada, as Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created the Banff Hot Springs Reserve in 1885, marking the beginning of the country's national parks system.
The government provided the following, full list of projects that will be included as part of the $39 million: