November 20, 2017

Below is the November 15, 2017 response from Mr. Wilkinson (Environment Parliamentary Secretary) to Save the Waterton Field regarding our August 31, 2017 meeting.
Mr. Wilkinson Response - PDF

September 1, 2017
STWF SUMMARY
Attached is the Summary of our presentation to Mr. Wilkinson yesterday.   We would encourage everyone to read the entire Summary. There are many details concerning  Parks Canada's lack of transparency and due process in the Summary that the public may not be aware of.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

We have ensured the Mr. Wilkinson and Minister McKenna have each received a copy of the Summary and we are now waiting to learn how they will address each of these issues when they issue a decision.

Read the summary and if you have concerns or questions, we encourage you to contact Minister McKenna and Mr. Wilkinson and discuss this with them. Request that the Visitor Centre project be put ON HOLD and that PUBLIC CONSULTATION be reopened on LOCATION. We have a limited amount of time until a final decision is reached. Offices will reopen on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend and be prepared to call on Tuesday!:

Jonathan Wilkinson: email:
Jonathan.wilkinson@parl.gc.ca
Vancouver Office (he will be in Vancouver next week) 1-604-775-6333
Ottawa Office 1-613-995-1225

Catherine McKenna: email:
catherine.mckenna@parl.gc.ca
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca
1-819-938-3813
1-613-996-5322

Bridgit Nardi: email: catherine.mckenna.c1a@parl.gc.ca

Chelsea Knox email: catherine.mckenna.c1b@parl.gc.ca, catherine.mckenna.a1@parl.gc.ca

Kyle Harrietha email: kyle.harrietha@canada.ca

Daniel Watson: email: daniel.watson@pc.gc.ca
1-819-420-5146

Christina Dasilva: email: christina.dasilva@pc.gc.ca
STWF SUMMARY
PDF
Access to Information Requests
​​​​​


ATI PDF Document
2017 ,April 11 
Sign and Share this Online Petition. Let Parks Canada know you want to Save the Waterton playground and spray park and that they should build the new Visitor Centre outside of the townsite!
Online Petition
April 10, 2017
The past few days have been truly remarkable! It has been incredible to see how strongly the Canadian public still feels about the Visitor Centre issue. The last two posts on the Save the Waterton Field Facebook page have each reached over 18 000 people and have been shared a combined total of almost 400 times. The video of the superintendent's "promise" to Canadians has been viewed over 9000 times. Contrast this with Parks Canada's website (letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca) which has only received a handful of ideas with the large majority of these posted ideas saying the same thing: MOVE THE VRC OUT OF THE TOWNSITE!

Parks Canada says they want to talk and Canadians are speaking loud and clear. Parks Canada has tried to pretend that the opposition to the VRC is coming from just a few noisy leaseholders. The huge response on this issue from the Canadian Public would say otherwise. The question is whether Parks Canada is going to LISTEN to the Canadian Public! (or did they mean to say: "Let's talk...As long as you tell us what we want to hear...otherwise keep your mouths shut") 

This next video focusses on safety. Parks Canada has been VERY quiet on the issue of safety on Block 39. Let them know that you value the safety of your children and they should too!
LINK TO FACEBOOK VIDEO WHERE THE SUPERINTENDENT SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK A SAFETY STUDY IS NECESSARY
 2017 ,April 6
Thanks to everyone for the massive outpouring of support over the past 24 hours. Save The Waterton Field is back and stronger than ever thanks to YOU! 

In their proposed Visitor Centre Design Option #3, on Parks Canada's website, www.letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca
Parks Canada proposes demolishing the existing playground, spray park, tennis courts, and basketball court. The description of the design states, "The success of this particular concept is dependent on the relocation of the playground."

This following video from the "Public Consultation" on June 18, 2016 demonstrates that Parks Canada is accountable to no one. Superintendent Ifan Thomas CLEARLY stated multiple times that Parks Canada would not touch the playground and spray park. Why are they now proposing to remove the playground and spray park? (and the Option 3 proposal contains by far the most detail...could it be the decision has already been made?) This is just another sham. Based on the massive outcry in the past 24 hours, the Canadian public is not buying it.

If you love the Waterton playground and spray park or know someone that does, share this post far and wide and spread the word! Tell Parks Canada not to touch the playground and spray park AS PROMISED and to move the new Visitor Centre OUT OF TOWN!


LINK TO FACEBOOK VIDEO  WHERE SUPERINTENDENT SAYS PARKS CANADA WILL NOT BE REMOVING THE PLAYGROUND (JUNE 18, 2016)
April 5, 2017
Many of you are probably aware that Parks Canada has initiated discussion on design options for the new visitor reception centre in Waterton Lakes National Park. 

For many months, members of the Waterton community have been trying to stop Parks Canada from building on the play field next to the playground through legal means. This legal initiative is still working its way through Canada's federal court system. 

Here is the website link for Parks Canada's proposed designs. 
www.letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca

Some key points from the website
-The building design options are all around 1000 sq m (10,760 sq ft)
-In Design #3, it calls for the complete demolition of the existing playground, spray park, tennis courts, and basketball court under the pretence that they will find another location in the park and relocate some of the play equipment to a different site within Waterton park. 
-Parks Canada has not stated they will pay for a new spray park if they demolish and relocate existing play equipment to somewhere else within Waterton Park. The spray park, playground and basketball courts were a community fundraised initiative not Parks Canada.
-There are no building regulations for the proposed site because it is a Recreational Reserve so the superintendent will follow Institutional land guidelines instead. Building regulations do not exist because buildings other than washroom facilities are prohibited on their proposed site.
-They will bring in a traffic engineer to address parking issues and traffic congestion. If they had listened to feedback last year, they could avoid the entire increased congestion problem by relocating the visitor centre outside of the townsite. The last thing Waterton needs is another "out of town expert" trying to fix a problem that Parks Canada knowingly created themselves. 
-Parks Canada states they will address community concerns of parking, traffic and public safety by turning the tennis courts into a parking lot.
-Parks Canada has not set aside any parking spaces for bus/trailer/motor-home parking and state they will determine that in the final design phase. Parking issues for the proposed location of the visitor reception centre in the middle of town will only increase as attendance in the park increases. 
-Parks Canada says they will listen to all feedback and then only the Superintendent will get to decide the design and layout. 

Here are some things YOU can do. 

1. Share this post. Let's spread the word about what Parks is proposing to do. 
2. Give feedback online on their website http://www.letstalkwatertonvisitorcentre.ca/join-the-conver… that none of the 3 design options are satisfactory due to the location. You are required to login to the site to leave a comment and please vote on those comments you agree with. 

3. Write a letter to show your disapproval to Parks Canada over their decision to continue forward with design options while this is being contested legally.
Ifan.Thomas@pc.gc.ca
Doreen.McGillis@pc.gc.ca
Pat.Thomsen@pc.gc.ca
Daniel.Watson@pc.gc.ca
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca

4. The superintendent publicly promised at the June 2016 community meeting he would not touch the playground that was fundraised and put together by the community. Let the superintendent know that the existing playground, spray park, tennis courts and basketball courts should not be demolished. If he can make a promise to the community, and is now going against the promise to not remove the playground, what use is any further consultation if the superintendent is just going to do what he wants anyway?

5. Attend the open house on April 29 in Waterton Park to let them know that none of the 3 design options are satisfactory due to the location. 

Instead of "let's talk" how about Parks Canada changes their motto to "let's listen" and uses the feedback they receive to create a beautiful new Visitor Centre, outside of the townsite.



SUMMARY OF JUNE 18 AND 19 COMMUNITY SESSIONS 
This past weekend we attended Parks Canada's Community Engagement Session on Saturday and Sunday. The facilitator, Tom Nesbitt, was in attendance, and before the Saturday meeting could even get off the ground, someone from the audience called into question the impartiality of Mr. Nesbitt as he is a personal friend of the Superintendent. From there, multiple people stood up and questioned the purpose of the Community meeting if Parks Canada was not actually willing to discuss the Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) location. As usual, Supt. Thomas stated that if anything "substantive" was missed, that Parks would re-evaluate. Supt. Thomas made it clear that only he gets to decide what is "substantive", and he does not want to bring in a 3rd party to re-evaluate. A few people were standing because they still had questions, and there was a very tense exchange where the Supt. loudly called people out by name and told them to take their seat. Emotions ran high at that point. 

Parks Canada then made a brief powerpoint presentation outlining their opinion of why the new VRC should be located in the townsite. Unfortunately, during their presentation, they did not present FACTS or DATA. They shared their opinion of why they believe Block 39 is the best possible site, but they have nothing to back up that opinion. At one point, the Supt. stated that he did not believe a safety study was even necessary. He made it clear that they will only do those studies they deem necessary after they have chosen the site and design. That seems to be backwards thinking, since what if a traffic study showed them the site was not viable, after they have already awarded design bids for Block 39. 

He repeatedly said that he knew what would best serve visitors, although we must question his previous experience since the other place he was most recently Superintendent was in the Arctic. Visitor numbers during his years at the Tuktuk Nogait National Park were 6 visitors in 2008, 4 in 2009, 2 in 2010, and only 1 VISITOR in 2011.

The floor was then opened up for questions. Various issues were then brought to the Superintendent. 

Regarding public consultation, the WLLA (Waterton Lakes Leaseholders Association) told the Superintendent that the public consultation he claims to have had with them was a sham. They said they had not been consulted on the VRC location, and they requested that he stop saying that to the media. The ID#4 Council (Advisory Board to the Park) also made it clear they had not given their full, unanimous support to the VRC location decision, and the Rotary Club stated that they also had not been consulted on this decision. The Superintendent had no response for these organizations, other than to say he viewed these supposed consultations as informal discussions on the site.

When Supt. Thomas was pressed on the issue of the size of the proposed VRC location and how there is no room for future expansion, he made it clear that Parks Canada is planning to demolish the basketball courts and tennis courts for parking. He did not have an answer as to the effect that would have on the community if those facilities were taken away, and did not address how they would deal with future expansion.

When discussing Parks Canada's disregard of the Community plan where it lays out that a new Visitor Centre is to be built on Institutional Land, not Recreational reserve, the Supt. again had no response as to how a 9000 square foot building with administration offices qualifies as an Open Space which is the definition of Recreational Reserve. 

Supt. Thomas and Pat Thomsen (Executive Director of Western Parks) sat at the front of the room and madly flipped through documents (the 2000 Community and 2010 Management plans) trying to find something that would support their claim that it could be built on Recreational Reserve and they were unable to do so. Parks Canada's unfamiliarity with their own guiding documents and what is in them was appalling, as multiple people from the audience were able to find the issues that were being referenced with ease, and those in the audience had to read them out loud for everyone, because Supt. Thomas and Pat Thomsen could not find it themselves.

The Supt. was also not even aware that in the Jenkins Site Study, Parks Canada had stated that they needed 90 parking stalls for the new VRC, but the townsite location was not able to accommodate that many, and the Parks Canada Project Brief had decreased the number to 60 parking stalls. Supt. Thomas seemed to be unfamiliar with what is contained in these documents. The Site Study and Project Brief are key documents related to the location decision, and it would be expected that someone who claims to have sole decision-making power would know exactly what is in these documents.

Many people brought up the sham that was the Jenkin's Site Study, and how Parks Canada chose the criteria and the weighting and ranking of those criteria. Supt. Thomas was questioned as to why Public Safety was not given a higher weighting than 3.9/100 and he was unable to answer that question. Similarly expandability was ranked last with no explanation.

Multiple engineers of various backgrounds stood up, and questioned how the Supt. could have made the decision on the VRC location without having done any studies, or data to support Parks Canada's claims and decisions. They questioned why Parks Canada was not following their own policies and procedures with this decision. 
An economic geographer explained a supply-demand theory, that Parks Canada will only increase congestion in the townsite by building it in the middle of the townsite, and that the decision lacks planning and vision. He also disputed the notion that everyone enters the townsite before they go hiking etc. on every visit to Waterton. The Supt. stuck by his claim that 98% of people enter the townsite, but he failed to mention that 100% of people will drive past the compound location for the new VRC as it is on the only road into the Park.

Another person brought forth the issue, that the 2010 Management Plan stated that Parks Canada investigate the feasibility of building it outside of the townsite, and that Parks Canada did not bring forth any issue stating why it could NOT be built outside of the townsite, other than their personal preference was for it to be in the middle of town.

The ability of new visitors to find the Visitor Centre was also brought forward, and the analogy was given that it would be like having a Walmart greeter at the very back of the store, where they are unable to give directions or welcome patrons. Many visitors will likely be required to ask for directions to even find the new VRC if it is built in the townsite.

It was brought up that in Banff and Lake Louise, Parks Canada is now expanding their shuttle services to deal with traffic and parking since congestion has become such a huge problem. Again, Parks Canada could not address the traffic and parking issues they would be introducing into the townsite, but stated that they had "experts" who could help them solve it.

Supt. Thomas decided that he would take some time to review those issues that were brought forward, so it will be of interest to see if Parks Canada really cares about what Canadians have to say. Parks Canada has tried to present the VRC location issue in the media as one that only the Waterton residents are upset about, but this issue affects EVERY SINGLE VISITOR who comes to Waterton. One intervenor read from Hansard that MP John Barlow had tabled a petition in parliament signed by over 1,000 (actually over 1,400) Alberta residents from across Southern Alberta opposing the location on Block 39. It is an easy matter to analyze the petitions to determine how many were residents of Waterton.

Someone brought forward the issue of how the project funding was awarded, since an archived Government of Canada document indicated that the $7.6 million funding had been awarded for the visitor centre as a component of the Compound Infrastructure. Parks Canada had no explanation for the document and denied having knowledge of the location for where the funding was approved, and refused to answer any questions regarding the processes involved with funding allocation.

At the Sunday meeting that was meant to deal with the wider issues associated with the new VRC, such as what would be housed in the building, etc., location was still a key concern of those present. Mr. Nesbitt tried to deflect those questions and stated that they were not relevant, but people made it clear that transparency and Parks Canada's lack of due diligence affected every aspect of the Park and constituted one of these wider issues.

Mr. Nesbitt proved beyond a shadow of doubt the bias he was accused of Saturday! He stifled any concerns of location – however – he repeatedly invited certain individuals who supported the superintendent to voice their support. They were given about six turns each at the microphone. Their comments were wild, lacked credibility and irrelevant – he kept pushing this to justify running overtime for obvious biased reasons.

Parks Canada was also questioned on future dates of supposed public consultation on design, as those dates are listed in the project brief as being held after the design decisions will already be made. Parks Canada stated that they were "flexible", which is one of the reasons this has turned into such a divisive issue, as Parks Canada is not following their own policies and procedures!

The final item at the end of the meeting was when the minutes of the meetings would be published Ms Nesbitt said it would be a long time – she is so busy! It would take one hour to publish the raw data which would be more accurate. We are concerned the value to the public will be greatly diminished after Parks Canada has had an opportunity to edit the minutes.
June 16 Update
By now, everyone should be aware of the Parks Canada Public Consultation this Saturday and Sunday, at the Bayshore Inn 1:30-5 both days. We are strongly encouraging everyone to attend and make their voices heard. 

This consultation has been billed by Parks Canada as a "community engagement session." From their own news release:

"This session will provide an opportunity for community members to share their views on these subjects and discuss them with Parks Canada."

It therefore comes as a surprise that Parks Canada is strongly discouraging their own employees, who are clearly all community members, from attending this public consultation. In fact, Parks Canada is mandating that if their own employees do attend, even if ON THEIR OWN TIME, they MUST wear their uniform (yet will not be paid overtime) and are to say NOTHING!

To be clear, this memo specifies that this decision was made by Ifan Thomas, Waterton Superintendent, and Pat Thomsen, Executive Director, who apparently will both be in attendance.

We think that this decision to muzzle their own employees is appalling and an affront to democracy.

If you agree, let these people know!:
Ifan.Thomas@pc.gc.ca
Doreen.McGillis@pc.gc.ca
Daniel.Watson@pc.gc.ca
John.Barlow@parl.gc.ca
Pat.Thomsen@pc.gc.ca
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca
tom.nesbitt@telus.net
lorien.nesbitt@gmail.com
dennis.madsen@pc.gc.ca
joe.fontoura@pc.gc.ca
locke.marshall@pc.gc.ca
June 9 Update
Parks Canada Public Notice
Parks Canada has finally released the dates for their proposed community engagement session. It will be held on Saturday June 18 and a follow up session will be on Sunday June 19. Both session will be from 1:30 to 5 at the Bayshore Convention Centre. We are encouraging everyone to attend!! Once again, there is no mention of LOCATION anywhere in this invitation. The superintendent would like to talk about traffic congestion but on May 31, he stated that Parks Canada has done NO TRAFFIC, SAFETY OR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES and HIS decision to put it in the location was based on policy alone. How can we discuss traffic congestion, and circulation if they have no studies or data?? 

If you would like this meeting to be on the proposed LOCATION, please email: 
Ifan.Thomas@pc.gc.ca 
tom.nesbitt@telus.net
lorien.nesbitt@gmail.com
Daniel.Watson@pc.gc.ca 

The following is the Public Notice from Parks Canada:

PUBLIC NOTICE
Public Engagement Session in Waterton Lakes National Park
June 8, 2016 Waterton, Alberta Parks Canada
Parks Canada is pleased to inform the public that it will hold a community engagement session on the new Waterton Lakes visitor centre on June 18, 2016 with a follow-up session on June 19, 2016.

These sessions will provide an opportunity for community members to share their views on these subjects and discuss them with Parks Canada.
Parks Canada will present an overview of the project and will explain how the community can shape the new visitor centre project moving forward, including input during the planning and design phases to address any concerns such as traffic congestion and circulation.
The sessions will also focus on strengthening the collaborative relationship between Parks Canada and the public in areas of common interest and identifying solutions that can move the new visitor centre project forward successfully. 

Parks Canada is committed to working with interested Canadians to have a new visitor centre that will ensure the highest level of service to park visitors, while contributing to a vibrant community for decades to come. For more information on the new Waterton Lakes Visitor Centre, please visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/ne/ne1.aspx
We look forward to welcoming community members, local businesses and other stakeholders at the sessions on June 18-19.

The details are as follows:
Session I
Date: Saturday, June 18
Time: 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Bayshore Inn Convention Centre 
111 Waterton Ave 
Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada
T0K 2M0

Session II
Date: Sunday, June 19
Time: 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Bayshore Inn Convention Centre 
111 Waterton Ave 
Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada
T0K 2M0

Information:
waterton.superintendent@pc.gc.ca
June 6 Update
Last week we met with Tom Nesbitt (from Vancouver) who is the facilitator hired by Parks Canada to coordinate the public consultation to be held in June. (Interesting side note - Mr. Nesbitt acknowledged he is a personal friend of the Superintendent from their time in the Arctic.) 

Superintendent Ifan Thomas made it clear that he himself chose the townsite location, and it was not under direction from his superiors. A final date for the public consultation has still NOT been selected but they stated they were leaning towards SUNDAY June 19, which is FATHER'S DAY. 

Please send a short email similar to this (or copy and paste) to the following people. Parks Canada needs to know we are not going away!

Ifan.Thomas@pc.gc.ca
Doreen.McGillis@pc.gc.ca
Daniel.Watson@pc.gc.ca
John.Barlow@parl.gc.ca
Pat.Thomsen@pc.gc.ca
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca

Dear Superintendent Ifan Thomas,
We DO NOT want the public consultation for the Waterton Lakes National Park community session on the proposed location of the new VRC to be held on Sunday June 19 (Father's Day), a day which is widely regarded as a Family Day. We think people shouldn't have to choose between their family and engaging with Parks on this sensitive issue. We would like the Community Session to be on Saturday June 18 or Saturday June 25. Please pick a date soon, as it would appear that Parks Canada is stalling. Thank you!
May 30 Update
Here's an excellent article from the Lethbridge Herald this morning. One interesting quote from it, "Thomas has not responded to a Lethbridge Herald request for further information." It's because he has no response as to why they did not attend the Public Forum, and they have no answer for our questions or even the media's request for comment. We know there were no safety, traffic or parking studies done for the townsite location as evidenced by their project brief. Parks Canada should learn that we are not going away until we get some answers. They need to admit they did not do the necessary consultation (even though they claim they did it 16 years ago - we have requested to see the minutes of those meetings), that the site study is biased, and they should follow their own legally binding Management Plan when they are spending $7.6 million of taxpayer money.


Waterton supporters await word
Dave Mabell
Lethbridge Herald
dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Southern Albertans understand it’s time for a new visitor information centre at Waterton Lakes National Park. What they can’t agree with, says Bonnie Fromm, is parks officials’ decision to take the townsite’s largest sports field for its site.

Fromm, one of a number of Lethbridge residents who attended a public meeting in the park recently, says many prefer the alternate location identified in the centre’s planning study – near the parks maintenance compound above Lower Waterton Lake.

About 200 southern Albertans showed up last weekend to voice their concerns, she reports, including lease-holding residents of the park and business owners.

“It was a very respectful discussion,” says Fromm, organizer of the Save the Waterton Field page on Facebook.

Who failed to attend, she adds, were Parks Canada representatives invited to explain the decision to build on a playground adjacent to the village’s playground and tennis courts.
“It was a huge disappointment that the Parks Canada people did not come,” she says. “We are looking for answers and they are not responding.”

The new visitor centre, replacing one built in 1958 near the Prince of Wales Hotel, is expected to cost $7.6 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018, with an opening the following year.

“It’s our taxpayers’ dollars at work,” Fromm says, and parks officials should be required to consult fully with the public before proceeding.

The site is zoned as an “environmental reserve,” she says, and the public should have a voice in deciding what’s appropriate for that zoning – as it does in the city – and whether the development will have negative impacts on adjacent property.

Park superintendent Ifan Thomas, in an earlier interview, said the land was actually zoned as a “recreational reserve,” with the new building considered a permitted use.

“That is clearly consistent with the community plan,” he said previously. Thomas has not responded to a Lethbridge Herald request for further information.

Further information is expected, Fromm says, when Parks Canada holds an update session in June. But her group has not yet been given the date, she says.

“People need notice,” she says. “We need more than two weeks to get the word out.”
So far, Fromm says, there’s no indication that discussion of the site will be on the agenda. Yet that’s the citizen group’s main concern.

“So what is the purpose of the community session?” she asks. “What’s the point of the meeting?”
Follow @DMabellHerald on Twitter

http://lethbridgeherald.com/news/local-news/2016/05/30/waterton-supporters-await-word/

We are holding a Public Forum on May 21.  Everyone is welcome!
​​Why We Care
Proposed site for the new Visitor Reception Centre
Parks Canada Administration is planning on building a new Visitor Reception Centre and parking lot on the playing field next to the playground and tennis court without ANY genuine consultation with the public.  There are numerous reasons why this is an undesirable location, but with enough public awareness we hope to stop the proposed site from going forward.  

The alternative site for the new Visitor Reception Centre would be located on the hill close to the Park operations buildings across from middle Waterton Lake. This would be a better solution.  On this site, it would provide easy access and visibility for those entering Waterton Lakes National Park, with extensive space for parking.  However, we believe no final decisions for any site should be made without public input and thorough review.
We see the need for a new Visitor Reception Centre and are in favour of one, just not in the proposed location of the Play Field.
Background Information
​Parks Canada has been granted $7.6 million to build a new Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) in Waterton Lakes National Park.  The existing VRC is small and has inadequate parking to meet the needs of those visitors who require assistance.  

The Park settled on two locations to review:
Site #1. The area adjacent to current Parks Canada operations buildings (compound) up on the hill across from Middle Waterton Lake.
Site #2. The play field next to the Spray Park/Playground/Tennis Courts/Basketball Courts.  

Proposed Site #1
Proposed Site #2
(If the VRC were built here, this would be the end of deer and mountain sheep grazing in this green space).

Parks Canada hired specialists and consultants to review those two options and make a decision with NO genuine consultation from the general public.  Parks Canada alone decided the factors and weighting of the details that were given to the consultants in order to skew the resulting recommendations to deliver the precise results that they wanted.


After these closed door meetings occurred, Parks Canada announced the new Visitor Reception Centre with parking would be built in the current Play Field.

Current zoning regulations prohibit the building of the new Visitor Reception Centre in the proposed site by Parks Canada as it is an Environmental Reserve/Recreational Reserve, but the Park intends to ignore their own Community Plan and proceed with this site.

Lack of Consultation 
The following letter was sent to Parks Canada in the hope of drawing attention to this issue and to encourage a forum where voices may be heard.


Ifan Thomas
Superintendent of Waterton Lakes National Park

Dear Superintendent,

I am writing in response to the notification that Parks Canada intends to build the new Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) in the middle of the Waterton Lakes National Park townsite.  Public consultation is a requirement for major park infrastructure. 

I would like to know: 
1.     The date of the supposed public consultation 
2.     How it was advertised
3.     The minutes of the meeting to see what was discussed
4.     Those in attendance.

I understand on October 10, 2015 there was a public open house on the following topics:
-The International Peace Park Pavilion
-Townsite Grounds (parking)
-Cameron Lake Day Use Area
-Staff Housing

The bulletin for the October 10, 2015 open house had no mention of the proposal for a Visitor Reception Centre.  

I have spoken with many leaseholders in the Park who were not aware of ANY Open House to discuss this new Centre.  For a project that is earmarked for $7.6 million of taxpayer dollars, Parks Canada is expected to seek input from the public. 

As quoted from the Parks Canada website from Section 8 of their Guiding Principles.

Public Involvement is a cornerstone of policy, planning and management practices to help ensure sound decision-making, build public understanding, and provide opportunities for Canadians to contribute their knowledge, expertise and suggestions.

For public participation to be effective, certain fundamental practices will be adhered to. These are:

-the provision of clear, timely, relevant, objective and accurate information;
-an indication of the areas requiring decisions, and relevant policies, legislation and agreements;
-ADEQUATE NOTICE AND TIME FOR PUBLIC REVIEW; (emphasis added)
-the careful consideration of public input;
-feedback on the nature of comments received and on Parks Canada response to participants; and
-respect for all interested publics.

From the News Release dated March 7, 2016

Based on a review of a range of options for the location of the new Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Reception Center over the past eight months, which has involved Parks Canada specialists, architectural consultants and stakeholders, Parks Canada is confirming today that the new Visitor Reception Centre will be situated on an open area within the townsite along Windflower Avenue, close to the entrance of the Townsite Campground, and adjacent to the tennis courts and playground. 

Despite involving “Parks Canada specialists, architectural consultants and stakeholders”, Parks Canada failed to consult the public.  The definition of stakeholder is a person with an interest or concern in something, or one who is affected by a course of action.  The general public and leaseholders are definite stakeholders in a Canadian national park.  A closed-door meeting with a preselected committee is not transparent consultation. 

I strongly encourage Parks Canada to pause for a moment and reconsider their current plan to construct the proposed Visitor Centre without consulting the leaseholders and members of the public who have a vested interest in maintaining the beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park for generations to come.

I look forward to your email with the information I have requested.

​Issues Surrounding the Proposed Site for the new
Visitor Reception Centre

1. Building a VRC with the associated traffic next to a busy playground and spray park poses a significant danger.

Adding more traffic to this already congested area would pose a major hazard to the safety of children who use the spray park, play ground, tennis courts, and restroom.

2. This is a poor location for a view.

Waterton Lake is hardly visible from the proposed site.  The view from this location does not provide “unparalleled beauty” as suggested in the Parks Canada news release, as it is surrounded on all sides by man-made structures. In contrast, the view from the suggested location near the compound is absolutely breathtaking. Please see the attached photos.
The view from the site proposed by Parks Canada.

The view from the second option that Parks Canada dismissed.

3. It is completely inappropriate for Parks Canada to ignore the Community Plan.

The Community Plan specifies the proposed area is zoned as Environmental Reserve and Recreational Reserve. The introduction to the Community Plan is very clear that there is to be no net negative environmental impact from development. Changing a green space designated as Environmental Reserve into a very large building, which even includes administration and office space, as well as a paved parking lot, produces a negative environmental impact in a national Park. 

4. The proposed location will be DIFFICULT for visitors to find.

Having discussed this with four different people who have been employed at the current VRC within the last 10 years, their experience has been that visitors require directions BEFORE entering the town site to locate key attractions, and sometimes still have difficulty finding the campground, even WITH directions from Staff at the park entrance


5. The proposed parking lot for the VRC will be problematic for parking.

A parking lot built there will be used by people parking in the morning, who would see it as a convenient spot to leave their vehicle for the entire day, leaving no parking for visitors who might arrive at the VRC throughout the day. 


6. This playfield has been used by children, young adults, park employees, families, tourists and wildlife for generations.

This is the location used for soccer, frisbee, baseball, slacklining, large group games and so forth.  There are a limited number of green spaces in the townsite suitable for use by large groups.  Occupying this site with the Visitor Reception Centre, Administrative offices, and associated parking lot will destroy this well loved play field.



Research
Don't just take our word for it, do the research yourself!
(Links may not work depending on your mobile version software, so if needed use the desktop version)

News Release
Waterton Community Plan
Waterton Management Plan Newsletter
Public Mailing
Visitor Centre Map 
Parks Canada
Code of Ethics
Waterton Management Plan
Waterton VRC Site Study
What YOU can do

Time is extremely limited. If you would like to see this field stay a field, here is what you can do. 

Tweet it!
It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s important.
#WatertonField

Waterton MP: @JohnBarlowMP
Leader of the Opposition: @RonaAmbrose
Minister of the Environment: Catherine McKenna @ec_minister
Parks Canada CEO: @WatsonPilot
Parks Canada: @ParksCanada

Write an Email!
Ifan.Thomas@pc.gc.ca
Doreen.McGillis@pc.gc.ca
Daniel.Watson@pc.gc.ca
John.Barlow@pc.gc.ca
Rona.Ambrose@parl.gc.ca
Pat.Thomsen@pc.gc.ca
ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca (Catherine McKenna)

You can email your letters to the above individuals and CC: savethewatertonfield@gmail.com if you don’t have the time to mail a letter or don’t have twitter. We will happily print and courier all letters (hard copy) to all the appropriate officials. Please have any letters or emails sent by April 25th so we can be sure the letters are there before the proposals are due.  
(We have updated this site and forwarded letters that were sent to voiceofwaterton.)  

If you choose to send an email, please cc savethewatertonfield@gmail.com

Mail a Letter!
You can write a letter to John Barlow (Macleod MP who represents Waterton Lakes National Park) and the following people to express your opposition to this plan. 


Macleod MP: John Barlow MP, House of Commons, Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6 (Postage free in Canada)

Local MP: Your MP, House of Commons, Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6 (Postage free in Canada)

​Waterton Superintendent: Ifan Thomas, P.O. Box 200, Waterton Park AB T0K 2M0 

CEO Parks Canada - Ottawa: Daniel Watson, 30 Victoria Street, Gatineau PG J8X 0B3

Leader of the Opposition: Rona Ambrose, House of Commons, Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6

Minister of Environment: Catherine McKenna, House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (Postage free in Canada)

Waterton External Relations Manager: Doreen McGillis, P.O. Box 200, Waterton Park AB T0K 2M0


Executive Director, Pacific and Mountain National Parks: Pat Thomsen, Suite 301 P. O. Box 900 Banff, Alberta T1L 1K2