Governments are making "short-sighted decisions" when it comes to Canada's parks, which is putting them at risk, a new report says.
A report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) listed specific concerns, including British Columbia changing its Park Act to allow industrial research within park boundaries, a new resort at Maligne Lake in Alberta's Jasper National Park and a two-decade-old "sleeping" plan in Newfoundland and Labrador to create new parks.
"Creating and protecting parks continues to be an uphill battle in much of the country," the report said. "A common threat we found in reviewing progress in Canada's parks this year is that many governments are making short-sighted decisions to prioritize industrial and commercial interests over the long-term ecological, social and economic benefits that come from conserving nature in well-designed, well-protected parks."
The report notes Canada has committed to protecting at least 17% of the landscape by 2020 under the international Convention on Biological Diversity. About 10% is currently protected.
This year, the federal government announced the new National Conservation Plan for Canada to meet the 17% target, but that plan did not outline how it plans to get there, CPAWS says.
Ted Laking, director of parliamentary affairs for Environment Canada, said the government is committed to protecting national parks.
"Our commitment is demonstrated by our increasing of the parks budget since forming government and by growing the network of parks. We have created two national parks, three national wildlife areas, and three marine protected areas and have tabled legislation to create Canada's first national urban park in the Rouge Valley," Laking said in an e-mail. "We will continue to support and invest in our national parks so that Canadians can enjoy our country's natural heritage."