Parks Canada has announced money to improve safety and experiences for visitors to four mountain national parks in Alberta and British Columbia.
It says $71 million in federal funding for Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay national parks includes upgrades to critical infrastructure, such as Parks Canada dispatch for emergency calls, as well as to several roadways and bridges.
Parks Canada will conduct repairs and rehabilitation on primary and secondary highways in Jasper, Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks, and start designing bridges in Jasper National Park.
Terry Duguid, the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change and minister responsible for Parks Canada, said the “robust roadway improvements through the iconic mountain national parks will provide safer traveling experiences for Canadians to connect with nature.”
“Improvements to Parks Canada’s first response capabilities with dispatch equipment upgrades will maintain quick and effective response times in dangerous situations.”
The funding also includes improvements in the community of Lake Louise, Alta., such as repairs to water and sewer infrastructure and a redesign of Lake Louise Drive.
The hamlet has been one of the busiest areas in Banff National Park, which gets about four million visitors annually.
A recent report noted a 29 per cent increase in visitors throughout the park between 2010 and 2019 — and some roads around Lake Louise have seen a 71 per cent increase in traffic volume.
“Our government works with local Indigenous groups and rural communities to ensure that we provide visitors with high-quality experiences while protecting our natural wonders for future generations,” said Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault, federal minister of tourism.
“Today’s investments will upgrade critical infrastructure in national parks across Canada, improving the quality of life for surrounding communities while keeping the parks safe and accessible all year round.”
Parks Canada says the money is part of $557 million in recently announced funding over three years to ensure continuation of infrastructure projects and maintenance work in the parks.
Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks are part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ecological impact assessments are used to manage the impact of infrastructure projects, and when possible, increase ecological gains for park ecosystems.