There is a proposal by Brewster to build a a 400-metre interpretive boardwalk and a glass-floored observation platform extending 30 metres out over the Sunwapta Valley at Tangle Ridge Viewpoint just north of the Icefields Centre. According to Brewster, “The Glacier Discovery Walk will enable visitors to engage with this dramatic landscape in a way that was not previously accessible to the majority of Jasper Park visitors”. Their illustrations of the proposed structure are intriguing. To learn more about this proposal click here or on the photo below:
Brewster says the function of the walk is so that “visitors will experience a guided interpretive walk… [that] will contain interpretive stations highlighting the ecology, geology, glaciology, Aboriginal history and social history of the area.” Of course, there will be a charge to walk the glass walkway (visitors will be bused from the nearby Icefields Centre.)
Some people are very excited about this proposal (meaning more revenue for the park and for travel companies — mostly Brewster).
Environmental groups such as The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is opposed to the development for the following reasons:
- It would set a dangerous precedent for renewed commercial development in our mountain national parks. If this goes ahead, what will be next?
- The long term impact on wildlife, including mountain goats and big horn sheep, cannot be predicted with confidence: there just isn’t enough data.
- It would contravene Parks Canada’s own policy that says that “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park’s purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”(Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policy, section 4.1.3). Read entire policy here.
- There is no evidence that this would meet the objective of connecting Canadians with the natural heritage in their national parks.
- There is little evidence that this infrastructure-focused development is what Canadians want for their national parks. The survey the company conducted was not representative of the views of all Canadians, but focused primarily on bus tour customers.
If you want to have a say in whether this project goes ahead or not then please drop a line by December 16, 2011 to:
THE SUPERINTENDENT GREG FENTON
Jasper National Park, Parks Canada Agency
Fax: (780) 852-6229
What do we think? Well, we have grave concerns about these kinds of ‘theme park’ developments. We go to Jasper (and all our natural areas) to get away from man-made structures and human-altered environments. We also try to minimize our impact on the Parks as much as our business allows. To get great views, we hike the wonderful trails in the Park. While we appreciate that Parks Canada may be under pressure financially and searching for ways to make the Parks more profitable, we believe some things have inherent value that can’t be measured by how much they make some company rich. We have heard that this area is important for critters like mountain goats and bighorn sheep which might be displaced so that humans can get a better view. There just doesn’t seem to be enough information for us to measure the benefits of this development against its potential costs. What are your views?