Whither National Parks

Visits to national parks are down and a proposal for a walkway built over a mountain valley promises to be a big draw in Jasper National Park. But opponents warn it could be just the top of a very slippery slope for Canada's mountain parks - saying the development is a threat to the ecosystem and a worrying sign that the government is now looking on our national environmental heritage as a money-maker first.

Three of The Current

Whither National Parks - Jill Seaton

A Calgary architect has plans for a new attraction at Jasper National Park. We heard from architect Jeremy Sturgess describing the inspiration for his award-winning design for the Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper National Park, in the Rockies of Alberta.

If it gets the go-ahead, the development would be located near the Columbia Icefields: an intrepretive trail with a glass-floored observation deck that would jut out 30 metres into the Sunwapta Valley.

Brewster Canada would build and operate the walk, and charge visitors between 15 and 30 dollars.

A decision is expected any day now, on whether the project will go ahead. And while the design is being hailed around the world, the proposal hasn't met with unanimous acclaim in Jasper itself.

An online petition against building the walkway has more than one hundred and sixty thousand signatures ... Jill Seaton is the chair of the Jasper Environmental Association, and she's one of the leading opponents to the proposal.

Whither National Parks - Jeff Gailus

Parks Canada is expected to make a final decision on whether to approve the Glacier Discovery Walk by the end of the month. As a new attraction poised to attract new visitors to Jasper, it might seem a good fit for Parks Canada's objective of drawing more visitors.

The number of visits to Parks Canada's 42 national parks and 167 national historic sites has fallen off by seven percent over the past four years. Parks Canada is paying a Toronto marketing company nearly 400-thousand dollars for help on how to build its brand and promote our national parks better.

Our next guest doesn't think that's what Parks Canada should be most concerned about, though. Jeff Gailus is an independent scholar and journalist who has been studying natural resource policy in Canada for 15 years. He's also the author of The Grizzly Manifesto and Jeff Gailus joins us from Missoula, Montana.

Whither National Parks - Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell has been listening. He's the Vice President of External Relations and Visitor Experience at Parks Canada, and he joined us from our Ottawa studio.

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