Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Court Rules Parks Canada Can Mull Tent Cabins in Jasper Park

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Court Rules Parks Canada Can Mull Tent Cabins in Jasper Park

Article excerpt

Parks can mull Jasper tent cabins: Court

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Parks Canada can consider new developments in national parks even if they go against management plans, the Federal Court has ruled.

That means a proposal to set up overnight tent cabins at Jasper National Park's iconic Maligne Lake can proceed to the next step.

"I see no reason in law or logic why Parks Canada cannot invite Maligne Tours to proceed with Phase 2 of the concept review," wrote Justice James Russell in his decision, released earlier this week.

In 2014, Jasper National Park management decided it would allow the company to move forward with a proposal for 15 overnight tent cabins at the much-loved lake. That meant Maligne Tours could begin preparing a more detailed plan and park staff could begin considering its environmental impact.

But the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Jasper Environmental Association pointed out the park's management plan forbids any new overnight accommodation outside townsites. They said that plan has the force of law and any proposal that contravenes it should be immediately dismissed.

They also argued allowing new cabins in a place that has never before had overnight accommodation would threaten habitat for caribou and grizzlies and likely lead to more human-animal conflict.

But Russell concluded it makes no sense to separate park development from the evolution of its management plan.

"It would mean that no conceptual proposals for development could be considered ... that required consideration of an amendment to the management plan," he wrote.

"If amendments to the management plan can only be considered at a macro level and without regard for development proposals, then Parks Canada and the Canadian public will be deprived of valuable and, in my view, necessary input."

Russell did agree with the environmental groups that final approval of the Maligne Tours proposal would require amending the plan, which Parks Canada also acknowledges. …

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