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Fight For Your Parks campaign launched over concern with commercialization

Several First Nations, Alberta conservation groups, scientists and business owners are coming together to call for a stop to what they call the commercialization of Canada's national parks.

Environmentalists, First Nations, past Parks employees, business owners and scientists join forces

Members launch the Fight For Your Parks campaign, aimed at raising awareness of and opposition to what it calls inappropriate commercialization in national parks. (Meg Wilcox/CBC)

Several First Nations, Alberta conservation groups, scientists and business owners are coming together to call for a stop to what they call the commercialization of Canada's national parks.

The group has launched the Fight For Your Parks campaign.

Banff resident and conservationist Harvey Locke says Parks Canada has been approving more and more development projects — like the new Glacier Skywalk and tent cabins at Maligne Lake, both in Jasper.

The final straw for Locke was the approval of the Lake Louise site guidelines in Banff, which provide the framework for future development and expansion at the hill. 

"This summer, for the first time, they said 'We're going to take land out of wilderness to expand a ski hill,' and we object profoundly to that," said Locke. 

Controversy over plans

Dan Markham with the Lake Louise ski hill disagrees with Locke's view. The hill had to give up areas of its lease in order to gain permission for potential future development in new areas, and he says that represents a net environmental gain for the park.

"There's over 1,000 hectares of land that's going to be protected forever, that's part of all of this program in exchange for a much smaller parcel of land next to current operations in areas that are, quite frankly, already being accessed by the public for skiing purposes," he said. 

Locke says protection of parks was enshrined in the National Parks Act, and those wilderness areas have never been violated until now. 

"I don't have a problem with skiing, I have a problem with limitless growth of ski hills, which is what is happening here," he said.

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