National parks under threat by development, CPAWS report says

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says national parks are under threat by commercial development and voters should challenge the federal parties about the issue during the election campaign.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says commercial projects going ahead despite public opposition

CPAWS is worried some projects that got the green light in Canada's national parks recently are putting the environment at risk. CBC's Bryan Labby reports. 1:51

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says national parks are under threat by commercial development and voters should challenge the federal parties about the issue during the election campaign.

At a news conference in Calgary Thursday, national CPAWS parks program director Alison Woodley said a new report shows the country's national parks are facing a crisis.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society continues to be critical of the way commercial projects are approved in national parks. (CPAWS)

"We're now seeing cases where public feedback on development proposals is being completely ignored, and this is simply unacceptable," she said.

"It's time for Canadians to say enough is enough and to rally to take back our national parks once again."

CPAWS says several projects slated to go ahead in the national parks are threatening natural areas.

The group is specifically concerned about projects like the Glacier Skywalk, a proposed resort development on Maligne Lake near Jasper, and the recently approved expansion at the Lake Louise ski resort.

'Worrying trend'

Woodley says the Lake Louise project will allow commercial development in an area that is a critical wildlife habitat, even though most of the people who commented on the proposal were opposed to it.

"Public consultations are getting shorter and in many cases, public feedback is being ignored. These symptoms represent a worrying trend of private interests taking precedence over the public interest and conservation in our national parks," said Anne-Marie Syslak, the executive director of CPAWS in southern Alberta, in a release. 

For its part, Parks Canada says it has strict development limits to protect the ecological integrity of all national parks.

"[A number of] guidelines outline development limits for ski areas, park communities, outlying commercial accommodation and other facilities within the parks," said spokeswoman Tania Peters in an email to CBC News.

"Parks Canada has a rigorous development review and environmental assessment process that ensures all development proposals comply with these limits and that the parks' ecological integrity is maintained," she added.

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