Thursday, 21 December 2017 06:13

Waterton repair must be done right

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In view of the devastation caused by the Kenow Fire in Waterton Park in September of this year, I was extremely disappointed that Canada’s Minister of the Environment did not take the opportunity to order a complete review of the overall long-term plans for Waterton before approving the controversial “Visitor Centre” in the Waterton townsite.

All Canadians lost a lot because of the fire but the fire also has created opportunities that should be explored before commencing with projects, which may later prove to be in conflict with future park needs.
There is an opportunity to renew park infrastructure and facilities keeping in mind Canada’s commitment to the environment.
In my mind, reducing the already inadequate amount of green space in the townsite is without justification.
Waterton is a jewel that Canadians and foreign visitors appear to have discovered. Waterton is also part of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park.
I understand that Glacier Park attracted more visitors than Yellowstone Park in July 2017. This has never happened before. Waterton benefits from this increase as more and more people continue on north after visiting Glacier. It is therefore important we get it right while we renew and rebuild.
This past summer the park gate was temporarily closed for a couple of hours due to high volumes of traffic.
Closing the gate is not the answer. It is obvious that what we had last summer may not be adequate.
Perhaps what we have is all that we can have but before we say that, we at least should have the majority of the stakeholders review, adjust and generally agree to the overall Waterton Plan.
The fire did open up an alternative for the Visitor Centre at the park entrance.
There appears to be ample space for buildings and parking and if combined with a shuttle service to the townsite, much of the congestion in the townsite may be at least, reduced.
Shuttle services have proven very successful in other parks.
It is my opinion that Minister of the Environment for Canada can demonstrate clear foresight and genuine leadership by taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and call for a complete review of the “Waterton Plan” that could serve all Canadians and especially Waterton Lakes National Park visitors for generations to come.
William Robert (Bob) Jacobson

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