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Exceptions are not an option

Policies exist for a reason. They are there to shape what is and is not acceptable. They are there to guide governments through tough decisions. And they are there to ensure fairness and due process.

Of course, as with all other things, policies must also be revisited and amended from time to time to keep up with the ever changing times, but those changes are not to be made lightly.

Making an exception or wide sweeping amendment can have far-reaching effects.

And that’s something that Jasper could see in the not-so-distant future, if Parks Canada approves Maligne Tours’ proposal to construct a three-storey, 66-room heritage lodge on its existing leasehold.

That decision would be an exception to a longstanding policy that states no new outlying commercial accommodations will be considered within the park.

That policy can be found in the 2007 Redevelopment Guidelines for Outlying Commercial Accommodations and Hostels in the Mountain National Parks (OCA Guidelines).

During Maligne Tours’ public consultation last week, Amber Stewart of Parks Canada said that the agency is considering the proposal because it meets other park objectives.

Those include visitor experience, as well as cultural and environmental stewardship, opportunities.

The question, though, is do those benefits outweigh the risks of approving overnight accommodation at Maligne Lake?

The precedent that Parks would set by making such an exception could easily result in proposals from other businesses and corporations looking to profit from the park. Jasperites have seen that already—it only took Maligne Tours a year after the Glacier Skywalk was approved to announce its own intentions for a development proposal.

Parks’ policies are in place to limit the growth of our town and park to ensure the protection of our wild spaces and wildlife. If the agency is planning to hold true to its mandate of protection and maintenance of ecological integrity, exceptions to longstanding policies on limited development are not an option.

Comments (5)

  • Kevin Van Tighem

    Well said. There is no visitor experience rationale for allowing a tour boat rental outfit to privatize one of Jasper’s most popular destinations. Visitor satisfaction is already exceptionally high based on surveys. A private resort would actually reduce visitor satisfaction by restricting access for the public – the people whose taxes and park entry fees sustain the park. Fancy language in their promotional materials notwithstanding, this is simply a real estate profit play by a few investors hoping to undo the achievements of principled Canadians who had the vision to protect Jasper in the first place and the determination to protect it against profiteering subsequently. There is no legitimate policy argument for allowing a new resort development at Maligne Lake no matter how creatively one might try to interpret the idea of visitor experience or pretend that a private resort would improve it. Let’s never forget who owns Maligne Lake. Not Maligne Tours. Not Parks Canada. We Canadians do. Leave it be.

  • Henry Hutter

    To whom it may concern
    Parks and Park policies are in place to protect wild spaces and wildlife , for future Generations . They are NOT to be changed to accommodate the profiteering of private companies or even the government itself!
    Live up to the parks policies NO Exceptions, so future generations can enjoy the places as I did hiking and paddling the area in the sixties – seventies when I lived in Alberta. Here it comes:Glacier Skywalk ,now this proposal. Where will it end?

  • Jalna Hunt

    Please stop this selfish and profit-driven attempt to hi-jack one of the most exquisitely beautiful lakes in the world!

  • Graham MacDonald

    I am strongly opposed to the proposed development at Maligne Lake, as this pristine wilderness is best left as natural as possible. Federal policies were established to prevent these very initiatives from proceeding in the first place. If the development goes ahead they might as well put Starbucks on Spirit Island.

  • Linda Rostern

    Preserving public spaces is very important. Governments who don’t respect policies that exist to protect wildlife and open public spaces should not be re-elected. They are in a position of trust so that they will do the right thing.
    Our generation and future generations depend on this.


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