Parks Canada staffing cuts spark worry
Federal agency also plans to move regional labs and artifact collections to Ottawa
CBC News has learned that Parks Canada may cut 10 out of 14 cultural heritage positions at its Calgary office.
The move is part of similar staff reductions across the country as the result of recent federal government budget cuts.
Parks Canada also plans to move regional labs and artifact collections to Ottawa to reduce costs.
But critics say the changes will hurt Canadian heritage and the visitor experience.
For example, roughly two dozen archaeology students from the University of Calgary have been helping dig up parts of an ancient village on the Siksika Nation southeast of Calgary.
Dig supervisor Lance Evans says the cuts create concerns about a project partner. They were expecting help from a Parks Canada archaeologist, who would provide underground imaging technology to aid in the dig.
CBC News has learned the Calgary office may lose six out of eight archaeologist positions.
Effects of staffing cuts remain to be seen
"We just don't know," Evans said. "Things are up in the air."
He said it’s a big blow because the university group is not well funded.
Rob Ferguson, a recently-retired Parks Canada archaeologist from Halifax, said the Parks Canada budget is already cut down to the bone and these cuts are making it even harder.
He's also concerned about plans to move regional artifact collections and research labs to Ottawa.
"They're pretty much going to do away with much of the research capability at Parks Canada," said Ferguson.
But agency vice-president Larry Ostolar says Parks Canada can still meet its mandate.
"We will, of course, focus on priorities as we always have," he said.
Parks Canada says it may also shorten the operating season at some of the country's 160 heritage sites.