Briefing book - November 2015

November 2015

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Parks Canada Mandate and Places
    • Protected Areas
  • Parks Canada Overview - Who We Are
    • Biography of the Chief Executive Officer
    • Senior Management
    • Organizational Chart
    • Financial Overview
    • Human Resources Overview
    • Legislative Responsibilities
  • Parks Canada Overview - What We Do
    • Operations
    • Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation
    • Heritage Conservation and Commemoration
    • External Relations and Visitor Experience
    • Internal Support Services
  • Issues
    • Capital Investment Program
    • Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples
    • Franklin Expedition
    • Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Confederation
    • Development Pressures
    • Approach to Visitor Service
    • Science Capacity for Natural Resource Conservation
    • Never Forgotten National Memorial
  • Communications Opportunities
  • Annex
    • Stakeholders and Partners
    • Media Links
A diver in the kelp forests of Gwaii Haanas
Rouge National Urban Park at sunset with city skyline
Costumed interpreters with visitors at Louisbourg National Historic Site


When people think of Canada, they think of its extraordinary geography, its diverse culture, and its many historical achievements. Parks Canada is the steward of some of the greatest national examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and is charged with maintaining their ecological and commemorative integrity for future generations. This network of more than 200 national parks, marine conservation areas, and national historic sites is the envy of the world and Parks Canada has the privilege of presenting these national treasures to Canadians, and to our guests from other countries, in ways that foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment.

Canada established the first national parks service in the world in May 1911. Parks Canada has been a world leader in the protection and presentation of natural and cultural places through its system of national parks, marine conservation areas, and national historic sites. The Agency is responsible for operations under multiple pieces of federal legislation and is the steward of 46 national parks protecting approximately 328,198 square kilometres of Canada’s lands, 168 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas covering 14,800 square kilometres of marine and freshwater ecosystems, and one national urban park.

Parks Canada is the guardian of natural and cultural heritage places and is committed to protecting these places and ensuring they remain healthy and whole. Parks Canada is a guide, inviting guests from Canada and abroad to visit our nation’s family of protected places and enjoy moments of discovery, learning, recreation, and reflection. Parks Canada is a valued partner, building on the rich traditions of Aboriginal peoples, the strength of our diverse cultures, and honouring our commitments to Canadians and to the international community. Parks Canada is a storyteller, recounting the stories of the land and its people, sharing the beauty and power of our natural world, and chronicling the human determination and ingenuity which have shaped our nation.

This Briefing Book is intended to introduce you to the mandate and structure of Parks Canada and provide you with an outline of some of the issues that are shaping how the Agency moves forward.

My officials and I will be pleased to brief you and your office in detail on the content presented in this Briefing Book and I look forward to engaging with you on the wide range of issues that occupy Parks Canada.

Parks Canada Mandate

Parks Canada’s mandate is to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Parks Canada is responsible for establishing and managing Canada’s system of national parks and national marine conservation areas, representing examples of Canada’s natural and marine regions.

The system plan for national parks, which was devised in the early 1970s, is 77 % complete and represents the diversity of the natural regions and landscapes of 30 of Canada’s 39 terrestrial regions. In managing national parks, Parks Canada maintains or restores ecological integrity, and provides Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy them.

Parks Canada’s portfolio of places includes the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP), Canada’s first national urban park. The RNUP encompasses cultural and natural heritage places and agricultural lands that will be protected to allow millions of Canadians to connect with their heritage.

The four national marine conservation areas represent five of Canada’s 29 marine regions, protecting both marine and freshwater ecosystems. In managing national marine conservation areas, Parks Canada works to foster the ecologically sustainable use of marine resources while protecting key features for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, visitors, and coastal communities.

Parks Canada is mandated to commemorate Canada’s history. On the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, the Minister designates national historic sites, persons and events. The Agency currently administers 168 national historic sites. It serves as Canada’s representative at the United Nations World Heritage Committee and is responsible for administering 11 of Canada’s 17 World Heritage Sites.

Parks Canada is the federal authority on archaeology on federal lands and lands under water. It is a leading steward of movable heritage assets in Canada. The Agency’s national collection of artifacts consists of 31 million historical and archaeological objects with direct links to Canada’s national parks and national historic sites.

The Agency is the largest federal land owner and third largest federal asset manager with over 11,700 built assets in 216 locations, the total replacement value of which was valued at $16 billion in 2012. The asset portfolio includes 1,050 kilometres of highways that run through national parks and national historic sites.

Parks Canada’s nine heritage canals support commercial and recreational boating and include 625 kilometres of waterways and more than 200 dams controlling major watersheds in Ontario and Quebec.

Parks Canada Mandate and Places – Protected Areas

A map showing Parks Canada’s protected areas across Canada
Protected Areas
Printable Version (PDF, 3.88 MB)

Who We Are

Parks Canada is led by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is supported by a senior management team. The operations of the Agency are supported by programs and internal services.

Biography of the Chief Executive Officer

Daniel Watson
Daniel Watson
Chief Executive Officer

Born in Saskatchewan, Daniel Watson graduated from the University of British Columbia in History and French Literature. He started his career as a supervisor at a Canada Employment Centre for Students in East Vancouver. After working in the area of privacy, access to information and human rights for the former Employment and Immigration Canada, he spent the following ten years with the Government of Saskatchewan, where he led policy and research on postsecondary education and training issues and later the Government of British Columbia, where he was responsible for Cabinet mandates for treaty implementation and settlement legislation. He was a negotiator on the Nisga’a Final Agreement and was responsible for developing the first settlement legislation in Canada for a First Nation treaty that included self-government.

He returned to the federal government in 1999 as Director of Aboriginal and Territorial Relations with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). He was appointed Director General of the Aboriginal Justice Directorate at the Department of Justice in 2001, where he served until being named Assistant Deputy Minister at Western Economic Diversification Canada in Saskatchewan in 2003. In 2006, he became the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction at AANDC. In March 2009, he was appointed Associate Deputy Minister for Western Economic Diversification followed by his appointment as Deputy Minister in July of the same year. In 2012, he was appointed Chief Human Resources Officer of the Government of Canada and then Chief Executive Officer for Parks Canada in 2015.

Daniel is a passionate speaker, in English, French and Spanish, about the public service, public servants and the extraordinary contributions that they make to Canada and to the lives of Canadians. He is also a pilot, a former member of the Regina Philharmonic Choir, an avid reader, has been a firearms safety instructor, and regularly rides his Harley-Davidson across the country.

Senior Management

Carol Sheedy
Carol Sheedy
Vice-President of Operations, Eastern Canada
Jeff Anderson
Jeff Anderson
Vice-President of Operations, Western & Northern Canada
Rob Prosper
Rob Prosper
Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment & Conservation
George Green
George Green
Vice-President, Heritage Conservation & Commemoration
Jane Pearse
Jane Pearse
Chief Administrative Officer
Michael Nadler
Michael Nadler
Vice-President, External Relations & Visitor Experiences
Sylvain Michaud
Sylvain Michaud
Chief Financial Officer
Maria Stevens
Maria Stevens
Associate Vice-President, Investment Planning & Reporting
Pierre Richer de La Flèche
Pierre Richer de La Flèche
Chief Human Resources Officer

Organizational Chart, September 2015

A chart showing the organization of Parks Canada’s senior management into three categories: Operations, Programs, and Internal Support Services.
Organizational Chart, September 2015

Financial Overview

The Agency’s permanent budget is approximately $500 million (representing 43% of current authorities) of which approximately 75% comes from appropriated funds voted by Parliament and 25% from revenues generated by the Agency. In addition, Parks Canada receives time-limited funding for various capital initiatives, such as the development of new national parks and national marine conservation areas, the development of Rouge National Urban Park, the assessment and remediation of federal contaminated sites and the continued implementation of species at risk strategies.

Parks Canada’s budget for fiscal year 2015/16 is $1,157.7 million, reflecting one-time funding specifically for infrastructure.

This budget is broken down as follows:

  • $587 million in capital allocations;
  • $551 million in operating funds; and
  • $20 million in grants and contributions.

Capital allocation includes time-limited funding of $471 million from Budget 2014 and the Federal Infrastructure Initiative to enable the Agency to recapitalize its $16 billion built asset portfolio and restore the overall condition of the portfolio to fair or good.


The Agency has two main contribution programs. The General Class Contribution Program, which primarily supports Aboriginal and non-profit organizations and the National Historic Sites of Canada Cost-Sharing Program, which supports activities aimed at ensuring the commemorative integrity of non-federally owned or administered national historic sites.


The Parks Canada Agency Act authorizes the retention of revenues. This is a significant source of funding to support the delivery of Parks Canada programs, including park and site operations and the provision of services to visitors.

On average over the last five years, re-spendable revenues were roughly $120 million annually. As of September 2015, total revenues had increased by approximately 10% from the previous year’s levels.

The following three main sources account for approximately 90% of Parks Canada’s revenues:

  • entry fees to national parks and national historic sites (over 50%);
  • camping fees (range between 15% - 20%); and
  • land rent and concessions, primarily in respect of commercial business operations in national parks (over 20%).

Human Resources Overview

The Parks Canada Agency Act established Parks Canada as a separate employer, with the Chief Executive Officer solely responsible for human resources matters. This status provides the Agency with flexibility in managing its workforce. The human resources (HR) regime is guided by values and operating principles.

Parks Canada is an operational agency. During peak season, when most of our parks and sites are open to the public, 85% of employees work in regional, remote and northern locations outside the National Capital Region in over 450 communities. Year round, a few corporate positions such as engineers, conservation specialists, human resources and finance staff are located outside the Gatineau national office.

By the numbers, Parks Canada employs between 2,950 indeterminate staff in low season to 4,200 in high season. About 50% of the Agency’s workforce is made up of indeterminate seasonal employees who work anywhere from 13 to 42 weeks a year. Parks Canada hires over 1,500 students a year and over 1,100 term (non-permanent) employees. Overall, after translating the seasonal staffing to full-time equivalence, the Agency has 4,224 full-time equivalents (FTEs), as reported in the 2014/2015 Departmental Performance Report.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve interpreter and children with Xplorers booklet
Interpreter speaking to visitors in Fundy National Park
Interpretive activity at Tuktut Nogait National Park

Parks Canada encourages and promotes diversity in the workplace, most notably in the hiring of Aboriginal peoples. Staff that self-identify as Aboriginal represent over 8% of the workforce, significantly higher than the workforce availability of 6% and well above the average employment rates for this group across the federal government. Women make up 47% of the workforce.

Every five years, by law, Parks Canada must conduct an independent review of its HR regime. The latest review, conducted in 2015, concluded that: “On an overall basis, it was found that the Agency’s HR regime is consistent with its values and operating principles. The Agency has a well-established set of values and operating principles in place, and, on the whole, the Agency’s HR regime aligns with, demonstrates support for, and reinforces the values and operating principles.”

Legislative Responsibilities

Parks Canada has a proud history of leadership in the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources. The legislative framework for managing Canada’s protected areas is broad in scope, and is composed of several acts and regulations.

Acts for which the Minister is Responsible

Parks Canada Agency Act, 1998

The Act establishes Parks Canada as a separate agency reporting to the Minister of the Environment and provides a broad mandate to the Agency to ensure Canada’s national parks, national historic sites, national marine conservation areas and other heritage areas are protected and presented for present and future generations. The Act imposes oversight and reporting requirements on the Minister and grants flexibility to the Agency on human resources and financial matters and broad powers for contracting and the acquisition and disposition of property.

Canada National Parks Act, 2000

National parks are dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, and parks are to be maintained and used so as to leave them unimpaired for future generations. The Act provides that the Minister is responsible for the administration, management and control of national parks and makes the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity the first priority when considering park management. Park management plans must be tabled in Parliament within five years of establishment and be reviewed every 10 years. Regulation-making authority is provided for a range of park management issues. There are currently 25 regulations under the Act. Certain sections of the Act apply to the 58 national historic sites that have been listed under the Act.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, 2002

This Act establishes national marine conservation areas for the purpose of protecting and conserving representative areas. These protected areas are to be used in a sustainable manner that meets the needs of present and future generations without compromising the function and structure of marine ecosystems. The Minister is responsible for the administration, management and control of national marine conservation areas on matters not assigned to any other Minister of the Crown.

Management plans must be tabled in Parliament within five years of establishment and reviewed every 10 years. The Minister is required to establish a management advisory committee to advise on these and certain aspects are subject to the agreement of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport. Regulations, which are being developed, will address a range of issues, including zoning to ensure ecologically sustainable use. Regulations that restrict or prohibit marine navigation or activities related to marine safety may only be made on the recommendation of both the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Transport.

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act, 1997

This Act establishes the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park in accordance with an agreement with the Government of Quebec, and provides for the park’s protection while encouraging its use for educational, recreational and scientific purposes. The Minister is responsible for the administration, management and control of the marine park and is required to table a management plan in Parliament to be reviewed every seven years. A coordinating committee makes recommendations to the Minister and the Quebec minister on implementation of the management plan. An additional committee ensures harmonization of federal and provincial activities and programs. Regulation-making authority is provided on a range of uses, including the protection of ecosystems, the protection of submerged cultural resources, zoning characteristics, and the control of the nature and type of activities within the marine park. There is currently one regulation on activities within the marine park.

Rouge National Urban Park Act, 2015

This Act establishes the Rouge National Urban Park, Canada’s first national urban park, as the newest category of protected areas under Parks Canada. The Act provides for the Park’s protection and promotes nature, culture and agriculture while respecting the urban infrastructure required of Canada’s largest metropolitan area. The Minister is responsible for the administration, management and control of the national urban park, and the administration of public lands in the park. Regulation-making authority is provided on all aspects of management and administration of the urban park. A park management plan must be tabled in Parliament by 2020 and be reviewed every 10 years.

Historic Sites and Monuments Act, 1985

This Act establishes the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) and provides for the commemoration of national historic sites, persons and events. The mandate of the HSMBC is to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of the Environment, on the commemoration of nationally significant aspects of Canada's history. Following evaluation and recommendation by the Board, the Minister may declare a site, event or person to be of national historic significance, and may recommend commemoration in the form of a plaque or another suitable manner. Members of the HSMBC are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister. In addition, an officer of Parks Canada is designated by the Minister.

Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, 1985

This Act provides for the designation of heritage railway stations, and requires Governor in Council approval of any alteration, demolition or transfer of ownership of a designated heritage railway station. The Act requires that eligible stations be evaluated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC), which advises the Minister of the Environment whether a building merits designation. The Act provides a process through which proposed changes to heritage railway stations must be reviewed and approved. Regulations govern how notice and application are to be made by an owner for the disposal, destruction, alteration, sale, assignment or transfer of a heritage railway station.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, 2008

This Act provides for the designation of heritage lighthouses owned by the federal government, protects the heritage character of designated lighthouses by preventing their unauthorized alteration or disposition, and requires that lighthouses are maintained or altered in accordance with established conservation standards. The Minister may designate a nominated lighthouse as a heritage lighthouse under the Act, taking into account the advice of an advisory committee.

National Cemetery of Canada Act, 2009

This Act gives honorary recognition to Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, as the national cemetery of Canada.

Laurier House Act, 1952

This Act provides the Minister with responsibility for the administration of the property and contents of Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada and the funds in the Mackenzie King Trust Account, in accordance with the will of the late Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Other Acts of Importance

Species at Risk Act (SARA), 2002

The Minister of the Environment has the lead responsibility for administration of the Act, in cooperation with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. From the perspective of Parks Canada, the Minister is responsible for implementation of action plans as a significant federal landholder of national parks, national marine conservation areas, national historic sites and other protected heritage areas.

Department of Transport Act, 1985

With respect to the historic canals, the Minister of the Environment has the power, duties and functions of the Minister of Transport under the Department of Transport Act. This Act provides the regulatory authorities for the Historic Canals Regulations and the Canal Regulations. These regulations govern the management, maintenance, use and protection of the nine historic canals administered by Parks Canada, and provide the authorities to control various land and water-based activities and navigation. The nine historic canals are: St. Peter’s Canal in Nova Scotia; Saint-Ours, Chambly, Carillon, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Lachine canals in Quebec; and Rideau and Sault Ste. Marie canals and the Trent–Severn Waterway in Ontario. The Parks Canada Agency Act confirms that Parks Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Historic Canals Regulations.

Dominion Water Power Act, 1919

Under the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, the Act controls the development and use of water power on any federal property and applies to water powers on lands administered by Parks Canada.

User Fees Act, 2004

The User Fees Act, under the President of the Treasury Board, establishes requirements for all new user fees fixed by a regulatory authority, and for making changes to existing fees. Some of the fees established by Parks Canada are subject to the requirements of this statute.

Contraventions Act, 1992

This Act is used to prosecute violations of minor federal laws through a ticketing system rather than a criminal charge.

Regulatory offences created by Parks Canada statutes are designated as contraventions under this Act.

Federal Real Property and Immovables Act, 1991

Under the President of the Treasury Board, the Act provides a framework for the acquisition, administration and disposition of real property and immovables by the Government of Canada, including those administered by Parks Canada.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001

Under the Minister of Transport, the Act promotes safety in marine transportation and recreational boating and an efficient marine transportation system; protects the marine environment from damage due to navigation and shipping activities; and provides for a regulatory scheme that encourages viable, effective and economical marine transportation and commerce. It provides for the protection and preservation of wrecks that have heritage value, for which it grants regulatory authority to the Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

Navigation Protection Act, 1985

Under the Minister of Transport, the Act regulates works and obstructions that risk interfering with navigation in the waters listed on the schedule to the Act, including those administered by Parks Canada.

What We Do

Parks Canada’s mandate requires year round operations across Canada. With responsibility for the management and administration of 46 national parks and Rouge National Urban Park; four national marine conservation areas and 168 federal national historic sites, including nine historic canals, Parks Canada employees and resources are active in hundreds of communities and remote locations from coast to coast to coast. The workforce is dedicated to keeping heritage sites open and operating for Canadians. In addition, the Agency is responsible for a diverse range of built assets and activities – from the Trans-Canada Highway that runs through the Mountain Parks in Alberta and BC, to avalanche response along mountain highways and fire response in all the park areas. The Agency has a search and rescue capacity, dedicated wildlife personnel, an armed enforcement branch and an underwater archeology group. We care for 31 million artifacts used actively in our sites for interpretation purposes and held in collections facilities to preserve them. The following provides an overview of the operational activities:

Banff National Park gate
A Parks Canada archeologist examines the The HMS Erebus Ship's Bell
Boy sitting on cannon at Ft. Beausejour National Historic Site
Ecological integrity

Parks Canada studies, monitors and reports on the state of park ecosystems. It manages and remediates contaminated sites, undertakes ecological restoration and mitigates ecological impacts. Parks Canada controls invasive species, protects species at risk and reintroduces species into native habitats. Parks Canada manages human/wildlife conflict, including the creation and maintenance of wildlife corridors.

Heritage conservation

With a collection of 31 million archaeological and historical objects, Parks Canada actively manages and curates the collection. The Agency restores and repairs heritage assets and performs onsite preventative conservation to mitigate the deterioration and damage of historic and archaeological objects. Restoration and stabilization of historic structures and buildings is performed. Some artifacts are displayed and interpreted through Parks Canada places for Canadians to enjoy and connect with their country's history.


Parks Canada welcomes over 20 million visitors each year and offers, with partners, memorable experiences, visitor activities and events. Visitors report high satisfaction with quality visitor services, facilities and safety programs. Visitor services and programs include: interpretation, re-enactments, facilities, campgrounds, trails, wildlife monitoring and reservation systems.


Parks Canada issues avalanche bulletins, undertakes search and rescue operations, and operates emergency dispatch. The Agency provides safety orientation for visitors, including travelling in back-country environments or encounters with wildlife. For visitors to the national northern parks, a portion of the safety training includes what to do when encountering a polar bear or succumbing to hypothermia.

Infrastructure and municipal-type services

Parks Canada is responsible for the safety and maintenance of the Trans-Canada and provincial highways within national parks, including snow removal, inspections, repairs and replacement of highway surfaces, retaining walls, bridges, and culverts. Recently, the Agency invested heavily in reducing animal mortality along highways by building over and underpasses and fencing critical sections of roadway. Parks Canada provides municipal services in five townsitesFootnote1including drinking water, sewage treatment, road maintenance, snow removal, and garbage pick-up and disposal.


Parks Canada is the largest federal land owner and maintains the records for the acquisition and disposal of these Crown lands. Parks Canada’s realty operations include the administration, acquisition and disposal of park lands, the issuance of licences and special permits, and the management of potential development opportunities.


FTEs: 3,429 (Eastern Canada: 1,705 | Western & Northern Canada: 1,724)

The Vice-President of Operations, Eastern Canada (the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario), and the Vice-President of Operations, Western and Northern Canada (the Prairie provinces, British Columbia and the North) provide leadership in the delivery of all aspects of Parks Canada programs. There are 32 field units managing the national parks, national marine conservation areas, national historic sites and Rouge National Urban Park. Operations affect over 450 communities. For example, the nine historic canals, with 625 kilometres of waterways, run through 75 communities, and the 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Operations are the face of Parks Canada with visitors by facilitating memorable visitor experiences and providing public education. Operations staff implement natural and heritage conservation programs; manage and maintain built assets; undertake and support scientific and archeological projects; collaborate and coordinate with Aboriginal partners, and provincial, territorial, municipal and private sector stakeholders.

In structuring this work, Operations rely on the support and advice from Directorates in national office. This cooperative relationship between operations in the field and centralized functions allows for efficiency and standardization across the country.

Looking forward:

Operational staff is critical in the planning, consultation and implementation stages of all the Agency’s activities. Operations are closely involved in delivering on infrastructure plans, improving recreation and service delivery, identifying new business opportunities, and maintaining or improving ecological and commemorative integrity.

Fire Management

Parks Canada is a world leader in protected areas fire management and the use of prescribed burns to restore, enhance and maintain natural habitat conditions. We have led over 80 prescribed burns since 1983, restoring over 25,000 hectares of vegetation and habitat across Canada in national parks and historic sites. In addition to helping restore Canada’s ecosystems and improve the condition of ecological integrity indicators, these controlled burns are used to protect cultural resources, reduce wildfire hazards around values at risk, and re-establish the role of fire as a natural process.

Watch the video: The Burning Question

Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation

FTEs: 181 Total

The group houses the scientific basis of the standards and practices regarding species and land protection. It advances the consideration of new park and marine areas as locations for new protected areas and advances negotiation with provinces, territories, Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders. As well, the directorate houses the warden program for law enforcement activities on Parks Canada lands and waters.

In establishing and managing natural heritage places, the Agency works with Aboriginal groups to find common ground in maintaining the integrity of the environment and the health of biological and cultural resources.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Establishing national parks and national marine conservation areas;
  • Establishing policy direction and providing operational support for maintaining and/or restoring the ecological condition of heritage areas;
  • Implementing the federal species at risk program within the Agency;
  • Leading forest fire management, including elements of suppression, prescribed burns and ecological restoration;
  • Parks Canada law enforcement wardens;
  • Providing advice and analysis on environmental issues; and,
  • Supporting international efforts, including engagement on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Looking forward:

The Directorate is working towards completing the systems of national parks and national marine conservation areas that are representative of Canada’s natural and marine regions; and Parks Canada’s contribution toward meeting Canada’s international biodiversity targets of protecting 17 percent of its land and 10 percent of its marine areas by 2020 in protected areas.

Reintroduction of Bison into Banff National Park

Plains bison have been absent from Banff National Park since before its creation in 1885, but once roamed freely in the area. Reintroducing a small herd on the park’s eastern slopes, a remote wilderness area that provides a suitable habitat, will contribute to conservation and recovery efforts and reconnect Canadians and First Nations to this iconic species.

Parks Canada is working with the Stoney Nakoda and Siksika First Nations, to identify and develop opportunities for the reintroduction of bison. This includes sharing traditional knowledge, blessing and celebrating the animals and habitat, and participation in stewardship and events. Future involvement will include obtaining bison meat and other remains for traditional use.

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration

FTEs: 151 Total

The Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate focuses on policies and standards for the protection of Canada’s cultural heritage. This work is used in determining how built assets in the field are designated and preserved, as well as the activities and priorities for the conservation of artifacts held in the Agency’s collections.

The Agency benefits from the deep understanding and experience held by Aboriginal peoples. This knowledge helps the Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate to better manage heritage places through effective and empowering relationships.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Historical research relevant to Parks Canada places;
  • Terrestrial and underwater archaeology within Parks Canada places;
  • The national collection, curation and object conservation;
  • Management of 31 million archaeological and historic objects;
  • Supporting the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in its role as advisor to the Minister on the designation of historic places, people and events;
  • Providing Canadian leadership in implementation of international conventions, programs and agreements, including the United Nations World Heritage Convention;
  • Designation and commemoration programs including: the work of the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office; the National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers; the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program; and
  • Programs to engage Canadians in the conservation of historic places including: the Canadian Register of Historic Places; the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, and the National Historic Sites Cost- Sharing Program.

Looking forward:

In order to respond to demographic shifts, work is ongoing to determine how to improve the presentation of history at Parks Canada Places in order to attract young, urban, ethnically diverse Canadians. The Directorate is working to develop materials and an approach that better includes and reflects Aboriginal history in interpretive programming.

Underwater Archeology

Parks Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Hydrographic Service, has surveyed vast areas of previously uncharted waters, resulting in improvements to marine safety, navigation, and search and rescue in Canada’s North.

Parks Canada’s partnership with other organizations has uncovered new knowledge about Canada’s Arctic ecosystems and underwater archaeology. For example, the deployment of Defence Research and Development Canada’s autonomous underwater vehicle has added to Canada's understanding and achievements in the areas of glaciology and ice movement, and navigation.

Two divers in water
Diver at rear of wreck of HMS Erebus
Diver shines his light on the The HMS Erebus Ship's Bell

External Relations and Visitor Experience

FTEs: 152 Total

The External Relations and Visitor Experience Directorate takes on the challenge of providing useful information and celebrations to Canadians to foster a deep appreciation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as support for and visitation to Parks Canada places.

The Directorate engages with Aboriginal partners through a range of activities, from joint interpretive programming, community visits, and social events for building personal relationships.

Quietest. Concert. Ever.

Rock band Hedley landed in Banff in fall 2013 to deliver an awesome concert to lucky fans in front of the majestic mountains in Banff National Park. In August 2015, Canadian songstress Serena Ryder performed on the ocean floor during low tide at Fundy National Park to over a 1,000 people. But these are not typical outdoor concerts! They are called the Quietest. Concert. Ever.

Hosted by CBC Music and Parks Canada, each concert-goer was handed a pair of wireless headphones that received the broadcast of live music over the air.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Supporting the delivery of high quality visitor experiences for over 20 million annual visitors;
  • Marketing and promotions of Parks Canada places as key tourism destinations ;
  • Outreach and learning initiatives, including celebration of key Canadian milestones;
  • Public affairs, media relations and corporate and public communications, including events and announcements;
  • Social science research;
  • Managing relations with the tourism industry;
  • National social media, website and new media initiatives; and
  • National strategic partnerships.

Looking Forward:

The Directorate is considering how the Agency can enhance connecting with Canadians, increase visitation, and provide relevant visitor experiences at its sites.

Red Chair Experience

While visiting the sites and parks under Parks Canada's care, Canadians take advantage of many amazing programs. This summer a grandfather challenged his grandsons to discover as many places as they could from PEI to Alberta. Along their journey, the boys took part in Parks Canada’s red chair program and took photos of themselves in 76 of the 500 red chairs across the country - a current record!

The red chair program challenges visitors to find as many of the strategically placed iconic red chairs as they can. Red chairs offer a place to relax and take in some of the most iconic views our country has to offer.

Watch the video: Time to Connect

Kouchibouguac National Park Red Chairs
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Red Chairs
Fundy National Park Red Chairs

Internal Support Services

FTEs: 516 Total

Four directorates and one secretariat make up Internal Support Services: Strategy and Plans, the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, Investment Planning and Reporting, the Chief Financial Officer Directorate, and the Human Resources Directorate.

Strategy and Plans

The Strategy and Plans Directorate, under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer, focuses on corporate-wide activities within the Agency. These include tracking the Agency’s built asset portfolio to understand the condition of assets, health and safety issues, investment project delivery, and coordination with Public Works and Government Services Canada, as our main construction partner. The group leads legislative and Cabinet processes; oversees realty activities for Parks Canada assets and lands; manages the information management/information technology infrastructure in collaboration with Shared Services Canada; drafts the Minister’s reports to Parliament on the Agency’s operations; and supports Operations with management planning.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • The delivery of all highway and waterways investment projects;
  • Development of standards for assessing and reporting on asset condition;
  • Developing and implementing the information management and technology policies and standards, as supported by Shared Services Canada;
  • Developing and coordinating legislative and regulatory proposals and Cabinet business;
  • Managing realty services, water power and administrative services, facilities and environmental management, and security;
  • Managing the integrated planning and reporting cycle; and
  • Analyzing and assessing options to actively manage the asset portfolio.
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat

The Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat focuses on strengthening engagement and relationship building with Aboriginal peoples. The Secretariat builds a common understanding by providing common training, guidance and tools.

The Secretariat is responsible for:

  • Building relationships with Aboriginal partners;
  • Consulting with Aboriginal peoples;
  • Creating economic partnerships;
  • Enhancing employment opportunities;
  • Increasing Aboriginal programming in Parks Canada places; and
  • Participating, under Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s leadership, in Comprehensive Land Claims and Treaty Negotiations.
Investment Planning and Reporting

With the substantial funding received over the past two years for investments in built assets, the group is focused on developing the planning processes and monitoring to ensure investment funds are allocated to the highest priority assets. These investment funds will be used to recapitalize assets across the portfolio, including heritage, tourism, waterway and highway assets within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas.

This Directorate provides advice, guidance and tools relating to investment planning. It manages the integration of the investment program across funding sources and across locations. It develops priorities, financial strategies and coordination frameworks.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Developing long-term and annual investment plans and making in year recommendations to respond to project alterations;
  • Oversight in the implementation of investment decisions;
  • Monitoring, assessment and reporting of investment performance;
  • Assessment and recommendations on capacity requirements to deliver the Agency’s investment program;
  • Identification of key risks and mitigation strategies; and
  • Communications related to the investment program.
Chief Financial Officer Directorate

The Chief Financial Officer Directorate provides national policy direction, guidance and tools for the financial and contracting activities of Parks Canada. This group has an important role to play in determining the financial expectations in planning of new and ongoing programming. It also plays an important monitoring and reporting role, both internally and to Parliament for Canadians, including providing a challenge function for business decisions.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Financial planning, monitoring and reporting (including main and supplementary estimates, annual reference levels and financial statements);
  • Central treasury and accounting (including grants and contributions, budgetary planning and control, and contracting services); and
  • Providing financial attestation on all Memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board Submissions.
Human Resources Directorate

The Human Resources Directorate provides national policy direction, guidance and tools for people management in the Agency. In this capacity, the Directorate performs an important function for the Agency by providing objective advice and ensuring resources are successfully placed and prepared to deliver Parks Canada services.

The Directorate is responsible for:

  • Developing and implementing the Framework for People Management (including labour relations, staffing, training, and occupational health and safety and disability management, among others);
  • Negotiating collective agreements; and
  • Compensation and benefits for employees.

Looking forward:

Given the number of potential initiatives moving forward, Internal Support Services has an important role to play to provide analysis, assessment and advice to all business units to support the Agency’s conservation plan, promote visitor experience and make our infrastructure safer and more appealing to visitors.

The Agency is pursuing best practices in managing and maintaining the built asset portfolio. Over the next four years, the Agency is investing nearly $3 billion in projects to recapitalize assets and address outstanding deferred work. In addition, as an active asset manager, the Agency is reassessing the current asset base to ensure the portfolio is tightly linked to mandate delivery.

With the additional staff to support the infrastructure program, related support services such as accommodations and information technology are imperative for successful delivery.

Twinning the Trans-Canada Highway

Parks Canada successfully managed a major construction project to twin approximately 37 km of the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) through Banff National Park in order to address serious traffic issues identified on the highway between Vancouver and Calgary. The project was delivered on time and more than $30M (10%) under budget. Motorist safety and traffic flow have significantly improved, with close to an 80% reduction in fatal collision rates, increases in average speed, and large decreases in travel time and vehicle delays.


The following issues may be raised by the public in the early days of the mandate.

I will be pleased to brief you on these and other more forward looking issues over the coming weeks.

  1. Capital Investment Program
  2. Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples
  3. Franklin Expedition
  4. Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Confederation
  5. Development Pressures
  6. Approach to Visitor Service
  7. Science Capacity for Natural Resource Conservation
  8. Never Forgotten National Memorial

Capital Investment Program


From within its regular budget, the Agency allocates an annual capital budget for maintenance and recapitalization of some $120 million. With a built asset portfolio with a replacement value of $16 billion as of 2012, this amount is well below industry averages for investments in required maintenance and recapitalization. To address this gap, Parks Canada received $391.5 million in 2014 for a five-year program to address immediate health and safety risks posed by rust out of critical highways, bridges and dams. Following this, Parks Canada was provided $2.6 billion again over a five-year period to address remaining deferred work across the portfolio. All these funding sources combined means that Parks Canada has a very significant capital investment program that extends from 2014 to 2020. For 2015/16, the Agency is targeting to invest some $550 million across the portfolio with a further $2.7 billion to be invested over the next four years (2016/17 – 2019/20).

To effectively manage and deliver an investment program of this magnitude, Parks Canada moved towards a rolling five-year investment planning cycle in 2014/15. In Spring 2016, Parks Canada is obligated to return to Treasury Board with a five-year investment plan for approval. The Investment Plan will outline the five-year program and highlight the decision-making and oversight mechanisms in place to support effective and prudent program delivery.


While the funding provided addresses deferred work in the portfolio with the objective of having an overall portfolio of assets in fair to good condition, there remains an outstanding annual funding gap for recapitalization and maintenance. Efforts are focused on strategic planning to ensure that projects target assets of highest priority for mandate delivery; align with asset sustainability objectives; and improve overall portfolio condition.

Parks Canada is closely monitoring progress on the implementation of the 2015/16 program of work.

Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples


In the context of the conclusions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Eyford Report and the views of many Canadians, there is a growing drive to develop a renewed, more equitable relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Parks Canada is well placed to advance a reconciliation agenda, including collaborations within our parks and sites that demonstrate reconciliation in meaningful and tangible ways. This is especially the case where Aboriginal peoples seek to restore their connections with traditionally used lands and waters.


Over recent years, Parks Canada has been recognized for its positive relationships with Aboriginal peoples. This reputation has been consciously and carefully developed over time, including through investments in an Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat within the Agency that focuses on developing meaningful and respectful relationships with our Aboriginal partners across the country. When the first national parks were established in the 1800s, Aboriginal peoples were often excluded, and in some cases removed, from their traditional lands and waters. In many places, these legacies remain, and there is a need to establish renewed relationships, and restore connections between Aboriginal communities and landscapes that remain integral to their social, cultural, spiritual, and economic well-being.

As an agency responsible for a significant amount of federal Crown land, Parks Canada operates on traditionally used lands and waters of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, including lands and waters covered by treaties and areas subject to land claim agreements. Parks Canada has established relationships with over 300 Aboriginal communities. Most places the Agency administers involve cooperative working relationships with local Aboriginal communities. These relationships support Aboriginal peoples in maintaining their traditional knowledge and may provide opportunities for Aboriginal peoples to share their culture and history with Canadians and international visitors. Parks Canada is often involved in developing and enhancing economic development opportunities in Aboriginal communities.

Over the past few decades, much of the expansion of the park and site network has been achieved through land claim agreements that include reference to national park establishment. For example, most recently, the establishment of Naats’ihch’oh National Park Reserve in the Sahtu settlement region and Qausuittuq National Park in Nunavut were contemplated in the respective land claims. Natural and cultural resource protection and presentation have been enhanced through increased Aboriginal involvement. Likewise, visitor service offers have been enhanced in places where visitors increasingly seek authentic Aboriginal cultural experiences.


In responding to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Parks Canada can play a useful and timely role. At a minimum, the Agency can respond to the “Call to Action” to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. There are examples around the country where Aboriginal history or culture has been misrepresented or omitted on historic plaques and information. The Agency can take immediate efforts to remedy this situation and, further, ensure that Aboriginal history is better integrated into Canada’s national heritage and history.

At a broader level, Parks Canada is well-positioned to support a renewed relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. By building on past and present successes, the Agency can positively contribute to initiatives that respond to objectives of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and provide a bridge into the rural and isolated communities that border many Parks Canada places. These efforts will contribute to the management of heritage places as living landscapes, within which the natural environment and Aboriginal cultures are inseparable parts of a larger whole.

Efforts to advance reconciliation will have particular importance in heritage places where Aboriginal peoples seek to restore connections with traditional lands and waters. In these places, there is a unique opportunity to propose reconciliation that will have meaningful and lasting impacts for Aboriginal communities and Canadians more broadly.

Gwaii Haanas

Within Gwaii Haanas’ marine realm lies an extraordinary diversity of ecological features and habitat. Archaeological evidence of human habitation on these islands dates back over 12,500 years and generations of Haida have been and still are nourished by the rich abundance of Haida Gwaii.

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program provides seasonal employment for Haida men and women who act as guardians and protectors for these sensitive sites, and educates visitors about the natural and cultural heritage of Gwaii Haanas. Parks Canada provides funds and maintenance to support joint management goals and conserve the area.

Franklin Expedition


The discovery of HMSErebus, along with the ongoing search for HMS Terror, provides an exceptional opportunity to spark a desire in Canadians to connect with their history and with Canada’s North. In late 2015 and early 2016, Parks Canada and its external partners will begin planning for 2016 research and outreach efforts for the HMS Erebus wreck site. The Franklin project has complex partnering relationships and jurisdictional issues with the Government of Nunavut. It involves international relations with the United Kingdom and requires the negotiation of an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for the Wreck of HMSErebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site pursuant to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Options for the establishment of a Parks Canada operational site in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, and related tourism potential will be addressed as part of these upcoming negotiations.

HMS Erebus

In 2014, the wreck of Sir John Franklin’s ship HMS Erebus was discovered off the coast of Nunavut. The search was a collaborative effort led by Parks Canada.

On April 16, 2015, a “Live Feed” of Parks Canada’s dive on the wreck was delivered to grade seven students at the Royal Ontario Museum. The event garnered broad media attention, and was carried on the CBC website. Online coverage, including on the Parks Canada website, has reached thousands and inspired renewed interest in Canada’s history and heritage through new media.

Breaking the Ice: Tour of the HMS Erebus


In 1992, the wrecks of HMSErebus and HMSTerror were designated as a national historic site under the Historic Sites and Monuments Act. Neither shipwreck had been found at that time. The shipwrecks were designated for their direct association with Sir John Franklin’s last expedition, which has been recognized for its national significance to the history of the exploration of Canada’s North and the development of Canada as a nation.

Following the discovery of HMS Erebus, Parks Canada took steps to ensure legislative protection of the Wreck of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site under the Canada National Parks Act. This enables the Agency to control access to, and activities within, a 10 km by 10 km area of the sea floor and water column below the low water mark. The site became the 168th national historic site to be administered and operated by Parks Canada.

Parks Canada developed protocols for the Government of Canada, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of Nunavut, and designated Inuit organizations and partners in order to clarify the roles and responsibilities of various players regarding the notification and disposition of recovered archaeological objects and the discovery of any human remains on HMS Erebus or HMS Terror. As per the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding, the United Kingdom remains the legal owner of the vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and their contents as provided by Admiralty Law, while the Government of Canada is assigned custodianship.

A multi-year Franklin outreach strategy guides the Agency and its partners in sharing the story of the Franklin discovery and ongoing research. Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Inuit Heritage Trust and Kitikmeot Inuit Association have engaged Parks Canada concerning the initiation of Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement negotiations as required by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.


Since the 2014 discovery of HMSErebus, there has been ongoing media interest, both nationally and internationally, and increased interest from private organizations to partner with the Government of Canada in Franklin-related operations and communications.

The search for Sir John Franklin’s ships has been successful due to an innovative effort to co-ordinate the activities of partners in a geographic area where it is challenging to operate. A multiplier effect was created whereby financial, human, technological and other resources of the partners were pooled to support strongly overlapping objectives, resulting in increased effectiveness and improved results. By working in such close collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Hydrographic Service, Parks Canada contributed to efforts to survey hundreds of square kilometres of previously uncharted waters, resulting in tangible and timely improvements to marine safety, navigation and search and rescue in Canada’s North.

Ongoing archaeological, outreach, interpretation and search efforts have been made possible by working together with a wide range of partners: the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Defence Research Development Canada, the Government of Nunavut, the Arctic Research Foundation, Seneca College, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the Royal Ontario Museum and One Ocean Expeditions.

Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Confederation


The celebration and commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 is building momentum. Parks Canada places help Canadians to connect to their nation’s cultural and natural heritage and can also play a key role in supporting the Government of Canada’s plans to celebrate and commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.


Parks Canada has been working closely with Canadian Heritage and other federal departments in preparations for celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The Agency is uniquely positioned to offer venues across Canada that can be linked to the lead-up and celebration of the nation’s sesquicentennial. Parks Canada can offer visitor programs and activities at its heritage places, host outreach events in large urban centres and celebrate key historic events and persons with visual materials such as street banners, posters, interpretive displays and materials available on-line.

Parks Canada has demonstrated its success in initiatives such as Quebec’s 400th anniversary, the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, the Centennial of Parks Canada in 2011, the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, and the 300th Anniversary of Louisbourg. In 2015, Parks Canada launched “Hometown Heroes”, a national program that honours the stories and contributions of individual Canadians to the events, battles and social conditions that shaped the World Wars.

The Agency works closely with federal departments and agencies such as the National Film Board of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post, CBC and Citizenship and Immigration Canada to enhance opportunities for Canadians to interact and learn about their heritage.


National milestones leading to the 150th anniversary of Confederation which Parks Canada could celebrate include:


  • 175th anniversary of the birth of Sir Wilfrid Laurier (November)
  • 175th anniversary of the election of Baldwin and Lafontaine, leaders of responsible government (April, September)
  • 150th anniversary of the Fenian Raids (April-June)
  • 100th anniversary of the extension of suffrage to Canadian women (January- April)
  • 100th anniversary of the battles of the Somme (July-November) and Beaumont-Hamel (July)
  • 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong (December)


  • 150th anniversary of Confederation (July)
  • 100th anniversary of Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites Program
  • 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League (November-December) and 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup (March)
  • 100th anniversary of the First World War battles of Vimy Ridge (April) and Passchendaele (October-November)
  • 75th anniversary of the Second World War Dieppe Raid (August)
  • 50th anniversary of the Canada Games (August)

Parks Canada’s approach for 2017 has a strong focus on reaching new audiences such as youth and new Canadians. Linguistic duality and Aboriginal cultures will be incorporated respectfully into the Agency’s celebration activities. Parks Canada can host events staged by third parties at Parks Canada places. In 2017, Parks Canada places will be a destination of choice to mark the Confederation’s 150th anniversary and the Agency will be in high demand as a partner for special events and activities.

Development Pressures


The Parks Canada Agency has a mandate to protect and present heritage places. Canada’s national parks must integrate the interests of environmental protection with the interests of the visiting public. The Agency has successfully managed the integration for over 100 years and has worked toward ecological integrity within parks while providing services and experiences to visitors.


Parks Canada’s integrated mandate of preservation and presentation is reflected in the Canada National Parks Act, which states: “The national parks of Canada are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, subject to this Act and the regulations, and the parks shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” It also states: “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority when considering all aspects of the management of parks.” Maintaining ecological integrity, however, does not equate to eliminating every environmental impact.

The tension between development and protection in national parks has a long history. Indeed, in several national parks, cottage lots, golf courses and commercial activities existed at the point of park creation and continue to exist today. When the land to create Rouge National Urban Park was being transferred from Transport Canada, there were and will continue to be agricultural operations.

Many park enthusiasts and supporters advocate for national parks to be sanctuaries of preservation and protection, with curtailed uses and visitation. However, visitation to national parks is essential for developing a sense of connection: 90% of Canadians who have visited a national park expressed having a “sense of connection”, while only 20% of Canadians who have not visited a national park say the same.

A recent example of the development tension in national parks was the construction of the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper, which opened in 2014. Environmentalists and members of the local community believed it was unnecessary, a risk to wildlife, and an “encroaching commercialization” in the national park. Proponents of the project highlighted that the skywalk provided a unique and innovative experience for visitors to the park. Visitation to the skywalk exceeded expectations in the first year of operation. Another current example is the proposed use of park land to erect the Never Forgotten National Memorial in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The mountain parks, and Banff and Jasper national parks in particular, are subject to some unique development pressures related to the existing legislated limits for commercial development within townsites and ski hill operations. Within the mountain national parks, there are approximately 550 leaseholders for commercial operations, back country facilities, major tourist attractions and commercial ski operations. Despite the mountain parks having the highest development pressures in the system, a full 95% of these parks are declared wilderness areas with strong limits on development and use.


In the fall 2013 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Commissioner concluded that: “Parks Canada is fulfilling its key responsibilities for maintaining or restoring ecological integrity in Canada’s national parks.”

Commercial development within national parks remains a sensitive public issue with concern regarding the amount of development. A report released in September 2015 by the Canadians Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) suggests that national parks are “in crisis” because of the threat posed by private commercial development and visitor infrastructure to ecological integrity. The report highlights six proposed and completed projects in Banff and Jasper national parks, as well as the Never Forgotten National Memorial in Cape Breton Highlands. At the same time, pressure is mounting particularly in townsites to allow for an expanded commercial footprint to meet the demands of increasing visitation. Banff is expected to receive four million visitors in 2015/16.

Parks Canada manages commercial development in national parks through planning and consultation with the public and stakeholders. The park management plan review process, which occurs on a 10-year cycle, is designed to provide an opportunity for a structured public discussion on development and future management direction for a national park.

Whitebark Pine

Whitebark pine is an endangered, slow growing pine in Western North America, found at harsh subalpine elevations where few plants survive. It stabilizes soil, creates habitat and holds snow to control mountain spring run-off. Loss of these trees has a significant effect on other species and ecosystems.

Parks Canada is part of an elaborate research, monitoring and restoration program, including government and non-government organizations from Canada and the U.S., working together to identify and implement solutions for the survival and health of this important species.

Annual protection and seed collection from surviving trees, and disease resistance trials are key restoration activities. Almost 9,000 whitebark pine seedlings have been planted, primarily in Waterton Lakes, Glacier and Banff national parks. An additional 4,000 seedlings will be planted in Jasper National Park in 2017.

Approach to Visitor Service


In 2012, Parks Canada aligned operating seasons and hours in national parks and national historic sites to reflect visitation trends throughout the year. This means that in periods of historic low visitation, the site would be closed or offer limited services.

Given that roughly 75% of visitation occurs from June to September, the vast majority of visitors are not impacted by these changes. The Agency also altered the visitor experience at less-visited national historic sites to self-guided touring using print and electronic media.

Parks Canada worked closely with local communities, businesses and the tourism industry to implement the changes. The reductions to operating hours, seasons and type of interpretation generated media attention and pressure from stakeholders. The season and hours of operation on the Rideau Canal and Trent Severn Waterway, for example, were largely re-instated.

When there is strong evidence of additional visitor opportunity during shoulder or closed seasons, operating seasons or hours have been extended. The operating season at Green Gables National Historic Site on Prince Edward Island, for example, has been extended to accommodate visitors from the cruise industry that continue to arrive during the fall.


Parks Canada achieved on-going savings of $5 million per year through the alignment of seasons and hours with visitation. The majority of parks and sites are staffed by over 60% seasonal staff who arrive just a day or so before the operating season begins and leave a day or so after it is closed. Staff are fully occupied in addressing visitor needs, which leaves them no time to upgrade their skills or contribute to corporate materials such as visitor safety plans. This has impacted the Agency’s ability to retain and attract new workforce and the advancement of certain projects.

Parks Canada achieved on-going savings of $2 million per year by providing only self-guided visitor activities at national historic sites with low visitation. Parks Canada is using technology and visual aids to provide memorable and meaningful experiences at these places. This has been appreciated by the segments of visitors who prefer to explore a national historic site at their own pace. Following initial public concern that the sites were closing, there has been modest public or stakeholder reaction to the change in offer.

Science Capacity for Natural Resource Conservation


Natural science expertise and technical capacity is required to manage the dynamic environment of national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites that encompass large natural areas. Science capacity at Parks Canada grew significantly through the early 2000s and was adjusted down in 2012 to more tightly focus on core functions and priorities. Scientific staffing levels within the Agency are appropriate for delivery of current priorities.


Natural science capacity was increased in the early 2000s in response to the coming into force of the revised Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Efforts to implement ecological integrity across the national parks led to the establishment of a system-wide integrated ecological planning, monitoring and reporting system. This guides decisions on the allocation of resources across conservation projects and improves public awareness. Parks Canada is the only protected areas system in the world to have this type of system-wide planning in place.

With respect to species at risk, in the 2000s, the enhanced science capacity allowed a concerted focus on the development of recovery strategies for critical species. With this success, the Agency shifted focus toward multi-species, site-based action planning and the implementation of priority recovery actions.

Combined, the science staffing to develop these monitoring and planning systems has allowed Parks Canada to establish and implement the most intensive ecological restoration program in its history.

Science capacity was assessed in 2012 in light of progress made in developing the ecological monitoring and species at risk programs. Going forward, it was important that science capacity continued to support the long-term sustainability of these programs and a science alignment with the core Agency mandate.


Currently, the science capacity in the Agency enables: informed, sound decision-making with respect to conservation priorities and resource allocation; design and implementation of priority conservation projects; and public awareness and education programming leading to improved stewardship. Scientists within the Agency are closely tied to on the ground programming and decision making. Science capacity is sized to deliver a sound monitoring system and currently oversees some $15 million annually in ecological restoration.

Parks Canada does not currently undertake pure research, rather it leverages science through partnership. Were Parks Canada to scale up efforts in ecological restoration, advance the establishment of national marine conservation areas or enhance Agency capacity to understand and mitigate complex conservation issues, such as climate change, a reassessment of science capacity would be warranted.

Wildlife Crossings

Wildlife mortality along highways is a significant challenge where transportation and wildlife intersect. Parks Canada has long committed to finding effective solutions to reduce incidents, and ensure wildlife connectivity in our places.

As of fall 2015, 53 wildlife crossing structures and over 97 km of fencing are in place or nearing completion along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff and Kootenay national parks. These have provided for over 150,000 safe crossings for a host of species such as moose, bears, wolves, deer and elk, with untold numbers of amphibians and fish using installed culverts. The number of wildlife-vehicle collisions has been reduced by 80% for all species, and by 96% for deer and elk. The animal crossing model developed by Parks Canada has been used internationally and its effectiveness validated by the longest-running monitoring program by scientists in the world.

Watch video: A Wild Way to Move

Never Forgotten National Memorial


The Never Forgotten National Memorial is a privately funded initiative to build a war memorial in Green Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. The site would commemorate more than 114,000 Canadians killed overseas. The design and location of the memorial have raised significant media and community interest.


In 2012, Mr. Tony Trigiani, President of Norstar Corporation, established the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation and approached the Government of Canada with a proposal to build a memorial in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The government approved the project and a joint news release was issued in August 2013.

Parks Canada would permit the use of land in the park through a licence of occupation. Once completed, ownership of the memorial will be passed on to the Agency to become part of the National Park. The memorial would be maintained by Parks Canada, using proceeds of an endowment fund to be established by the Foundation.

Under an October 2014 Memorandum of Understanding, project construction and long- term maintenance are to be financed through Foundation fundraising. No contribution to construction and maintenance are to be made by the Government of Canada.


Scope and Scale

The project has five phases and is projected to cost $50 to $60 million, excluding maintenance costs. Given that the funds for construction must be privately raised, Parks Canada has agreed that the scale of the project could be adjusted to accommodate the progress of fundraising. However, all phases must be stand-alone projects, reducing risk to the Crown should the Foundation be unsuccessful in raising the required funds for subsequent years. The Foundation is targeting the completion of phase one, initial construction of parking and walkways, by July 2017.

PCA Contribution

In February 2014, Parks Canada provided funds through two contribution agreements totaling $100,000 to the Foundation ($25,000 to support the development of visitation analysis, and $75,000 to develop the Foundation’s website). Information of these contributions was made public and led to significant media attention.

Communications Opportunities

Parks Canada’s activities and programming can provide a wealth of communications opportunities. Whether announcing the establishment of a new national park or national historic site, investments in infrastructure or the designation of historic people or places, or participating in youth programs or celebrations of uniquely Canadian events and milestones, there are opportunities for collaborating with communities and organizations across the country.

Media interest in Parks Canada is high, with between 200 and 300 media enquiries per month during the summer. Requests tend to focus on three areas: visitor experiences, such as events and activities at national parks and national historic sites; wildlife; and the management of parks and sites.

Parks Canada engages in proactive media relations to promote our places and share information on research projects of interest to the general public. The Agency responds to dozens of media enquiries every year on visitor safety and search and rescue operations. Overall, media attention is positive, especially as it relates to visitor experience. Parks Canada has an active and popular social media presence with over 110,000 X (Twitter) followers and more than 90,000 likes on Facebook.

Over the coming six to 12 months, events that could serve as platforms for communications initiatives include:


As storytellers, Parks Canada recounts the history of our land and people—the stories of Canada. Parks Canada commemorates moments and milestones in Canadian history, as well as designations of events, people and places. These events can allow the Minister or MPs to collaborate with local stakeholders, Aboriginal groups and other levels of government in celebrating Canadian history. Some upcoming events could include a commemoration of Remembrance Day on November 11 at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site in Nova Scotia or local historical designations.


Parks Canada is a major player in the domestic tourism industry. The Agency is active in outreach to municipal, provincial and territorial government tourism organizations, as well as Aboriginal groups and other private sector players. Each year, Parks Canada presents the Parks Canada Youth Tourism Entrepreneur Award at the Tourism Congress hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. This award honours exceptional individuals under the age of 32. The Minister or another MP could present the award this year in December and use the occasion to engage young entrepreneurs.

Youth Programs

Parks Canada works with partners to develop new and exciting ways for visitors of all ages to connect with our places, with an emphasis placed on programs and opportunities to attract youth to Canada’s natural and cultural heritage in fun and innovative ways. There would be opportunities for the Minister or MPs to participate in events that promote Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest (a national video contest open to grade eight students) and local Learn-to-Camp events for families and new Canadians.

National Parks Creation

Creating a national park, national marine conservation area or national historic site can be a complex journey with many stakeholders keenly interested and involved. Along the way, there are various steps that are announced, such as the intent to create a new park or conservation area, partnership agreements with Aboriginal communities, public consultations and the passage of legislation. Each of these milestones provides positive media opportunities, often shared with Aboriginal partners and other levels of government. There will be an opportunity for a ministerial event to announce the completion of the final steps in the creation of Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, another link in Canada’s national parks system. A visit to the park with reporters could be organized to showcase the area.

Developments in Parks and Sites

With a portfolio as broad as Parks Canada, there is always something exciting and new occurring. The Minister and MPs can use such occasions to celebrate our shared cultural and natural treasures. Going forward, for example, we expect to have artifacts from HMSErebus to announce and information on plans for future research on the Franklin expedition. We expect to increasingly implement full programming in Rouge National Urban Park, which would provide a good setting for media events. The eventual reintroduction of bison in Banff National Park is a conservation project that could be of significant interest to Canadians and the media.


Infrastructure announcements represent excellent opportunities to generate maximum media exposure in rural or remote communities all across the country. By halting the loss of irreplaceable built heritage sites, waterways and roadways, and renewing visitor facilities, Parks Canada is restoring the vast majority of its assets that are aging or at the end of their life-cycle, allowing current and future generations of Canadians to experience and connect with their special places. To date, of the $3 billion envelope for infrastructure over five years, $1.93 billion has been announced. Parks Canada is currently finalizing a list of infrastructure and conservation projects to support the renewal of its five-year investment plan (2015/16 to 2019/20) which will present significant announcement opportunities.


Stakeholders and Partners

Parks Canada works with a wide range of stakeholders and partners in the delivery of the Agency’s mandate. Partnerships and collaborative arrangements have been used to facilitate the Agency’s work in virtually every area of its activities. In recent years, Parks Canada has made great strides in growing and diversifying these collaborations. By working in collaboration, the Agency and its partners can leverage one another’s expertise and resources in order to achieve outcomes more efficiently and effectively that serve the interests of Parks Canada, partners, and all Canadians.

Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Arctic Research Foundation
  • Canadian Avalanche Association
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
  • Canadian Wildlife Federation
  • Historica
  • National Trust for Canada
  • Nature Canada
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Royal Canadian Geographical Society
  • Trans-Canada Trail
  • World Wildlife Fund Canada
  • Air Canada
  • Brewster Travel
  • Destination Canada
  • Fairmont Hotels
  • Google Inc.
  • Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Provincial/Territorial/Municipal Organizations
  • Canadian History Museums Network
  • Canadian Parks Council and its member organizations
  • Provincial and destination tourism marketing associations

Media Links

General Overview
Natural Conservation and Restoration
Heritage Conservation and Restoration and Archeology
Visitor Experience
Built Assets
Unique Roles
Visitor Videos

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