Park Canada Agency’s Regulatory Interpretation Policy

Interpretation policy

An interpretation policy is an overarching document that outlines the commitments, practices, and tools to be applied by a department or agency when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations to be met. It also identifies the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.

Agency context

The Parks Canada Agency (the Agency) is the federal body reporting to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Parks Canada manages national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas on behalf of Canadians, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these heritage places for present and future generations.

The Agency administers over 30 regulations that prescribe the types of activities that can be carried out in these protected heritage places. It has developed this Regulatory Interpretation Policy to facilitate awareness and clear understanding of its regulatory requirements. The policy outlines the Agency's commitments in the areas of:


Plain language commitment

The Agency is committed to using clear and plain language in developing its regulations, any regulatory guidance material, and for responses to regulatory inquiries. It has developed responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and will develop FAQs for new and amended regulations with an impact on Canadians and business. In addition, the Agency will develop FAQs as required in areas identified by stakeholders.

Providing guidance and building awareness

Parks Canada will, as necessary, prepare additional information for stakeholders to help foster awareness and understanding of its regulatory compliance requirements. The Agency will provide clear information during the regulatory development phase through various methods described in the Stakeholder Engagement Practices section of this policy.

Information about what visitors and businesses must do to comply with regulations is available on the individual websites for most of Parks Canada's heritage places, and through Parks Canada field unit offices and visitor centres. Electronic information is usually located under the "Park/Site Management" tab located in the left menu of the individual websites. Electronic versions of visitor guides and information packages and links to documents and web pages provide details about the types of activities that are permitted and the authorizations that are required. This information is either available for direct download or a contact email and/or phone number is provided.

Responding to questions

Parks Canada is committed to providing timely, accurate, and helpful answers to Canadians and businesses who seek information or clarification on regulatory requirements. Written responses to written inquiries concerning the application of Agency regulations will be provided upon request. Note that the Agency's responses do not constitute or replace legal advice about how a regulation may apply in a specific circumstance.


Service commitment

Parks Canada is committed to providing courteous, respectful and professional service in all aspects of its interactions with Canadians and businesses, including implementation of its regulations. Parks Canada has developed the Quality Service Standards, which formalize the service level Agency employees provide and reflect the Agency's values and Canadian's expectations. These standards ensure that service quality is implemented in a consistent manner and allow the Agency to:

  • Provide professional service to Canadians and businesses in providing information on the interpretation of Parks Canada regulations;
  • Ensure exceptional service for all Canadians and visitors when taking actions to fulfill regulatory requirements; and;
  • Develop recruitment, training and assessment tools for staff who interact with visitors so that their actions are consistent with providing the highest level of service while meeting regulatory requirements.

The Agency has established regulatory Service Standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations. These outline what businesses and others can expect in terms of timeliness in issuing some licenses and permits.

Service accountability

Parks Canada offers several methods to receive and respond to questions or complaints raised by Canadians and businesses regarding issues that may be linked to regulations:

  • The regulatory Service Standards provide contact information regarding how permits and licences are provided. Specifically feedback can be provided by telephone or email. Using these mechanisms, Canadians can obtain more information or make a complaint about how licenses or permits were provided;
  • The Forward Regulatory Plan provides telephone and email contacts on planned regulatory initiatives;
  • Other ways of providing feedback on regulations and implementation include:
    • Contacting a Parks Canada place by clicking on the "Contact" found on the Parks Canada website.
    • The Agency maintains a General Inquiries email address at

Staff training

Parks Canada will ensure that staff who respond to inquiries regarding activities related to Agency regulations have the necessary skills, technical knowledge and training to provide quality service.

Stakeholder engagement

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

Parks Canada will engage stakeholders and Indigenous peoples, as appropriate, when developing practices and materials that foster understanding, awareness and compliance with the Agency's regulations.

Stakeholder engagement practices

Parks Canada uses feedback received during the regulatory development and consultation process to determine the need for additional material to promote regulatory compliance. The Agency also actively engages with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples through a variety of mechanisms, including advisory committees, co-management boards, electronic communiqués, newsletters, community meetings, website and newspaper notices, as well as information bulletins posted at heritage places and nearby communities. Stakeholders are able to provide feedback to the Agency on regulatory interpretation through the Agency's General Inquiries email address at


Parks Canada fosters continuous improvement in its regulatory interpretation. Specifically:

  • In 2014-2015, the Agency consulted stakeholders and Indigenous peoples to determine areas for improvement in the information provided to Canadians and businesses regarding the interpretation of Agency regulations;
  • By March 31, 2015, the Agency identified areas for improvement in providing regulatory information, as well as putting in place procedures for ongoing improvements; and
  • By March 31, 2017, the Agency updated Canadians on the progress made in implementing such improvements.
  • In January 2018, the Agency reviewed the information provided to Canadians and businesses regarding the interpretation of its regulations to ensure relevancy. All items were determined to be up-to-date at the time of the review. 

March 31, 2017 update to Canadians on improvements made to three areas identified in 2014 to 2015

  1. Regulatory Amendments

    Parks Canada received feedback on the need to update the regulations governing land use management which are perceived to be outdated, difficult to interpret and cumbersome. These are included in Parks Canada Agency’s Forward Regulatory Plan.

    Regulatory amendments focus on the consolidation and streamlining of existing regulations (National Parks Building Regulations, National Parks of Canada Cottages Regulations, National Parks Signs Regulations, and Town of Jasper Zoning Regulations) to decrease administrative burden and promote harmonization of regulatory practices.

    The Agency also received recommendations from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations that would improve the consistency and readability of certain regulations. Based on these, in 2015, Parks Canada amended the Historic Canals Regulations, to improve the legal clarity of certain provisions. More recently, the Agency advanced a package of miscellaneous regulatory amendments proposed by the Committee that addressed inconsistencies, errors and ambiguities in the regulations. In total, fourteen amendments to the National Parks General Regulations, the Historic Canals Regulations, the Wood Buffalo National Park Game Regulations, and the National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations were approved in February 2017.

    Following on the recommendations of stakeholders, the Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations were updated and came into force on January 1, 2017. The revised regulations take into account how standards, practices and conditions surrounding marine mammal observation activities have evolved.

  2. Guidance material on the Parks Canada Agency’s public website

    Parks Canada Agency continues to provide guidance on the interpretation and impacts of regulations on activities in national parks, national marine conservation areas and historic sites with respect to Indigenous partners, stakeholders and the general public. Guidance documents are available on the Agency’s public website.

    Guidance material for visitors and businesses on recent regulatory amendments continue to be posted on the Agency’s website. For example:

    Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park posted guidance material on recent amendments to the Marine Activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations including:

  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Parks Canada Agency committed to updating FAQs to reflect suggestions received from stakeholders, Indigenous partners, members of the public and Agency staff.
  4. Updates were completed to the existing FAQs: Regulations to reflect recent regulatory amendments and correct inaccuracies.

    In addition, FAQs on the Marine Activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations were developed and included in the FAQs: Regulations section of the website to assist in the implementation of recent amendments, which came into force on January 1, 2017.

    A link to the FAQs on Regulations was also included on the general FAQs page of the Parks Canada Agency website. This link was added to promote ease of reference to information on regulations and to make the site more user friendly.

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