Parks Canada drafting 10-year plans for Banff and other mountain parks

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A deer pauses in Merlin Meadows at Banff National Park.  (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)
A deer pauses in Merlin Meadows at Banff National Park. (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)

Parks Canada wants to hear from Canadians on how to manage the country's national mountain parks over the next decade.

The federal agency is working on management plans to set priorities for national parks, including Banff, which sees more than four million visitors a year.

Banff field unit superintendent Dave McDonough calls it a significant strategic document that sets a vision and objectives for park planning and management strategies.

"It's important to hear from Canadians as to whether or not we've met the mark but certainly it's moving us in that direction," he said.

McDonough says draft plan priorities include protecting the park's natural and cultural heritage, managing visitation, strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples, improving accessibility and connection to all Canadians and adapting to climate change.

"It really sets the stage for how Banff park, for example, will be like over the next 10 years," he said.

Sarah Elmiligi with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says they're still examining the draft plans but says she's cautiously optimistic about parts of them, including discussions on protecting the ecosystem, visitor management, Indigenous relationships and action around climate change.

But she adds they're still waiting to see how the vision will translate into planning.

"With all management plans, the devil is in the details and implementation of the management plan becomes just as important as the plan itself," she said.

The public can provide feedback until July 7.