NDP Parks Critic demands answers on Jasper multi-use trail proposal

OTTAWA – NDP National Parks Critic Wayne Stetski (Kootenay–Columbia) is calling on the federal government to release the full details of the plan for a multi-use trail in Jasper National Park and to undertake thorough public consultations on the proposal.

“The new government promised Canadians more transparency, but there has been no public consultation, no needs assessment and no environmental assessment done on this project,” said Stetski. “Instead, the Liberals have allocated a significant amount of money to a project for which very few details are available and no consultation has been done.”

The 2016 Federal Budget included a surprise announcement of $65.9 million for the construction of a biking and walking trail in Jasper National Park, but failed to provide any details. Parks Canada has since confirmed that the 107-km biking and walking trail will stretch from the Jasper townsite to the Columbia Icefields, and could eventually reach all the way to Lake Louise, but much of the plan remains unknown.

A coalition of environmental groups has raised concerns about the proposed trail as the latest example of commercial interests being prioritized over conservation in Canada’s National Parks.

“The Liberals need listen to the people on the ground and live up to their promise to preserve our National Parks,” said Stetski. “New funding could go a long way towards helping to restore conservation and scientific capacity in these parks.”

 Earlier this week, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society called on Parks Canada to live up to its mandate to protect nature as the first priority for managing our National Parks, and to immediately stop development in Banff and Jasper National Parks.