The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), a national charity that seeks to conserve the country’s large landscapes and waterscapes, is speaking out against the Glacier Discovery Walk now approved to be built in Jasper National Park. The controversial privately-funded project, which will allow a private tour company to open a trail and viewing platform within the boundaries of the park, was approved for construction yesterday by Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent.
In a statement also released yesterday, CPAWS expressed their disappointment that Parks Canada will allow the 400-metre walkway and glass-floored viewing platform to replace a scenic overlook from the highway, where park visitors were previously able to pull off the road to enjoy the view.
Éric Hébert-Daly, the group’s National Executive Director, explains that the group is “opposed to this massive development because the long-term impact it may have on wildlife in the area, including mountain goats and other sensitive species, is simply not known.” According to CPAWS, the project contradicts a written national parks policy, which allows only for outdoor activities “which call for a minimum of built facilities.”
The group also fears that this project will set a certain precedent, since it is driven more by commercial concerns than ecological ones. While they support new opportunities for people to enjoy nature, they feel a commercial project like the Glacier Discovery Walk is simply not suitable within national park boundaries.