Canada Puts Profits Before Parks
Banff National Park, a World Heritage Site, is fast becoming
"the construction capital of western Canada."
"Individual profit has frequently taken precedence over park
values," said Pat Kariel, a long-time Sierra Club activist.
"Entrepreneurs within the park often circumvent public
participation and local park decision-making processes to
obtain permission for further development.
The Banff Bow Valley Study, set up in 1994 by the Canadian
government, was given two years to address concerns about
conflicts between environmental preservation and economic
growth. So far, three major developments, already under way,
were excluded from the study: a housing complex, an
extension of the Trans-Canada Highway and expansion of a
major ski area.
The study task force is currently developing a vision
statement for Banff National Park, and is sending out a
draft version for public response. "At present this document
amounts to nothing more than idealistic dreams for the
future," Kariel said. "It is not known what, if any, means
will be suggested for implementing its final contents."
Environmentalists argue that panel members have downplayed
respected scientific studies relating to wildlife and other
natural features. Kariel added that the draft implies that
scientific findings might be overridden by business
considerations. "We can't have everything," she said, "it's
impossible to preserve the ecological integrity of the area
while providing all possible facilities."
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