What we heard

Yoho National Park

Summary of Comments on the Draft Yoho National Park Management Plan Phase II Public and Indigenous Engagement Program


According to the Canada National Parks Act, each national park must have a park management plan. These plans reflect Parks Canada’s national direction and provide park-specific strategic direction for delivering on the core elements of Parks Canada’s mandate — visitor experience, public understanding and awareness, and heritage resource protection.

Park management plans are reviewed regularly so that they:

  • reflect new Government of Canada applicable priorities and legislation, as well as new Parks Canada direction;
  • incorporate new knowledge, best practices and approaches;
  • include consideration of new challenges and opportunities relevant to the management of the park;
  • strengthen the integrated delivery of Parks Canada’s mandate within and between contiguous parks to ensure that resource protection, visitor experience, and learning opportunities are mutually supportive; and
  • incorporate decisions and achievements made or advice developed through public participation processes since the previous plan.

Each new or amended national park management plan must be approved by the federal minister responsible for national parks and tabled in Parliament before it takes effect.

The Engagement Process

The first phase of engagement focused on assessing the current state of the park, and identifying important opportunities and challenges that should be addressed in the park management plan. The first phase of engagement ran from January 30 to May 10, 2019, and included a range of opportunities designed to gather input from Indigenous communities, youth, local stakeholders and other Canadians. Stakeholder workshops, community information events, and the Let’s Talk Mountain Parks online platform were used to gather input. The outcome of this process was used to craft a draft management plan for Yoho National Park, completed in early 2021. 

The second phase of public engagement was conducted between April 8, 2021 and July 8, 2021 in conjunction with the six other mountain national parks in southern British Columbia and Alberta. Engagement with interested Indigenous communities was completed in January 2022. Draft management plans were posted on the Let’s Talk Mountain Parks website along with various tools to support public input, including a survey, ideas board, and “Have Your Say” response pages. Public and stakeholder workshops were held by videoconference with interested parties in Field, Golden, and Radium Hot Springs, with Parks Canada staff, and with representatives of the Canadian Rockies Youth Forum, and the Young Canadian Professionals for Conservation Network. All of the input received during both phases of engagement was carefully considered by the planning team in the development of the Yoho National Park Management Plan. 

What We Heard

Overall there was widespread support for the protection of the park and the objectives contained within the park management plan. Many expressed a desire to see broader issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples addressed as top priorities at the park level and beyond. 

There appeared to be a general sentiment that the draft plan was going in the right direction, with broad support expressed for protecting park resources and wilderness character, maintaining limits to development, taking a landscape-level approach, and improving the relationships and roles for Indigenous peoples in park management.

Topics where respondents indicated a high degree of support include maintaining functional wildlife corridors, maintaining wilderness character, employing visitor use management strategies to address increasing visitation, restoring local populations of species at risk, maintaining sustainable visitor facilities, and working to monitor and mitigate threats from climate change.

The comments on frequently mentioned topics are summarized below. This summary is not intended to be a detailed representation of every view; rather, it is a high-level overview of the most commonly expressed ideas.

What We Heard
... About Ecological Integrity, Conservation and Wildlife

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • Widespread support for protecting the park’s ecological integrity, with Parks Canada encouraged to prioritize the needs of nature over the interests or desires of humans in order to achieve a net improvement in ecological integrity, recovery of species at risk and conservation of native biodiversity.
  • Overwhelming support for maintaining the wilderness character of the park and strictly limiting development in order to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity. 
  • Concern about the impacts of increasing visitation, with recommendations to curtail promotional activity to ease this pressure.
  • The desire for Parks Canada to reduce human-caused noise and light pollution in order to maintain ecological integrity and nature-based experiences. 
  • There is strong support for the protection of wildlife corridors and landscape connectivity within and beyond park boundaries, and for maintaining limits to growth, with some respondents wishing to see a reduction of commercial activities and development in the park. 
  • There is support for the use of prescribed fires to restore forest ecosystems, although there is some concern related to large-scale burns and the financial resources required to support them. Incorporating Indigenous burning practices into fire management is seen as an important evolution of fire policy, especially as this relates to addressing forest fuel buildup.
  • Parks Canada needs to do more to address perceived negative visitor behaviours through visitor use management strategies, stewardship education and enforcement. 
  • More detail on the proposed twinning of the Trans Canada Highway should be included. The importance of maintaining wildlife connectivity, restoring disturbed land such as the Mount Vaux rock storage area, and compensating for habitat lost to highway twinning should be stressed.
What We Heard
... About Visitor Experience and Visitor Use Management

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • Maintaining access to backcountry opportunities, and repairing backcountry facilities that are in poor condition is a primary concern for many. Some wish to see Parks Canada restore historic trails that are no longer maintained, including providing a minimal level of maintenance on the Amiskwi trail, or to consider new trails in alternate locations where existing trails are in significant wildlife habitat (e.g. McArthur Creek).  
  • Some respondents asked Parks Canada to recognise and promote the long-distance Great Divide Trail (GDT) concept, and consider establishing new campsites and trails in the Kiwitenok Pass area to support through-hikers travelling between the Little Yoho Valley and Amiskwi Pass. Conversely, others suggested that GDT through-hikers were creating impacts by random camping and off-trail hiking in this area. The increasing number of GDT hikers is affecting the availability of backcountry campsites for other Yoho visitors in the Yoho and Little Yoho valleys.
  • Visitor use management strategies are seen as an important tool to manage visitation in order to avoid the need to expand visitor facilities. Conversely, a few participants suggested building more facilities to disperse visitors, or expanding parking at Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls and Wapta Falls. 
  • Implementing new methods of accessing the popular areas of Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls, such as transit, electric shuttles, and improved bicycle access, is seen as an important tool to address visitation pressures. However, some comments cautioned that access systems need to account for the patterns of “traditional” users, who may be leaving trailheads early and/or returning late in order to accomplish their backcountry objectives. 
  • The trend toward large recreational vehicles (RVs) was a concern for some, with suggestions that Parks Canada should stop facilitating use by large RVs to reduce demands on park space and infrastructure, and contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions. Others suggested that a more sophisticated fee structure be put in place, so that resource-consumptive and space-demanding RVs pay more for camping and parking than visitors using small trailers or tents.
  • Comments on specific facilities or activities included a desire for Parks Canada to provide more support for winter activities such as Nordic skiing in Yoho; a request to restore the Great Divide day use area and establish bike parking to encourage cycle access; interest in restoring some camping at Hoodoos or Chancellor Peak in the west end of Yoho; and more biking opportunities in the park.
  • Numerous respondents asked that Parks Canada re-focus on providing nature-based camping experiences by addressing issues of noise (loud music, generators), outdoor lighting and the disruptive behaviour of some park visitors. Some requested more un-serviced campsites to support traditional camping experiences without large RVs and the associated noise. 
  • Comments related to accessibility and inclusivity focused mainly on ensuring regional and Canadian residents have opportunities to experience the special areas of the park. The luxury lodges in Yoho National Park are seen as unaffordable for most Canadians, and hence inconsistent with inclusivity objectives. Further, numerous commenters expressed frustration at the difficulty of reserving opportunities to visit Lake O’Hara, and suggested that local and regional residents be provided some measure of preferential access to their neighbourhood park over international visitors.
What We Heard
... About Indigenous Relationships

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • There was strong support expressed for Parks Canada’s objectives related to enhancing relationships with Indigenous partners, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge into park management. Some felt that this theme should be given a higher priority in the plan, while others supported the concept but wished to see more details about what this would look like on the ground.
  • Many people expressed interest in learning more about Indigenous history and culture, and encouraged Parks Canada to create opportunities for Indigenous people to tell their own stories. Applying Indigenous place names to features in the park was a topic of interest, as was the importance of incorporating Indigenous burning practices into forest restoration and fire management programs. 
  • Indigenous people should be present in the park and feel welcome to use park lands and waters according to their traditional and modern practices.
  • Parks Canada and Indigenous partners should work together to identify collaborative projects and to develop indicators to measure the success of Indigenous reconciliation.
  • Indigenous people should benefit from economic opportunities in the park as long as this does not involve expanding development into wilderness or beyond existing growth limits. 
What We Heard
... About Climate Change

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • A strategy to address climate change is essential and should be given greater emphasis in the plan. Some commenters wished to see a more aggressive approach to combatting climate change, and urged Parks Canada to provide greater leadership and a commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2035.
  • Parks Canada should develop a comprehensive climate change plan aligned with federal government commitments that provides a clear transition to clean energy and an electric vehicle fleet for the park.
  • Parks Canada should focus on the ecological effects of climate change and conduct research to identify areas of the park that could become important climate refugia for biodiversity as conditions change and species ranges shift.
  • Specific suggestions on how Parks Canada could respond to climate change in the park included: improving bike infrastructure, with covered bike parking at major trailheads; providing electric (mandatory?) shuttle transportation for the Yoho Valley and Emerald Lake road; prohibiting gas-powered generators and large RVs in park campgrounds; developing an escalating fee structure where drivers of large, less fuel efficient vehicles like RVs pay higher park entrance and camping fees, compared to people arriving in smaller vehicles, electric vehicles, or on transit or bicycles; prohibiting campfires; and, improving air quality by addressing impacts of residential wood burning in Field.
What We Heard
... About the Planning Process and Plan Content

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • The management plan is well-organised, comprehensive and broadly endorsed. The high-level, strategic nature of the plans was supported, although some felt that more details would enable the public to more easily hold Parks Canada accountable over the life of the plan.
  • Some wished to see Parks Canada return to a 5-year management plan review cycle. 
  • More measurable targets would allow for better assessment of progress throughout the implementation of the plan.
  • The area management section is good, but too limited. There was interest in more details on how other sections of the park will be managed. Two areas in particular were identified as worthy of a closer look: Emerald Lake; and Lake O’Hara. 
  • Parks Canada should take a leadership role in working collaboratively with partners on initiatives of mutual interest. Working with adjacent land managers to improve wildlife connectivity and maintain biodiversity values in the landscape around the park is seen as particularly important.
What We Heard
... About Cultural Resource Management

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • Parks Canada was encouraged to recognise and share more information on the cultural heritage of the park, with particular emphasis on increasing awareness of Indigenous cultural heritage and resources. 
  • Interest was expressed in revitalising the interpretation of the park’s railway history and working with Canadian Pacific to improve sightlines and provide safe viewing opportunities for the Spiral Tunnels. 
  • There is support for re-opening the Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site. Suggestions included making this a day-use only facility, or developing it as an affordable, overnight backcountry experience.
What We Heard
... About Park Assets and Infrastructure

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • There is a broad level of support for limits on development and infrastructure, especially as it relates to commercial enterprises. It was noted that more facilities would likely bring more visitors resulting in greater environmental impacts.
  • There is support for maintaining and improving backcountry camping infrastructure, while avoiding expansion of facilities to protect wilderness. 
  • The proposed twinning of the Trans Canada Highway is viewed as an important project, with potential to reduce wildlife mortality and maintain habitat connectivity with appropriate crossing structures. Parks Canada was encouraged to commit to initiating this project within the first 5 years of the management plan. 
  • The loss of habitat associated with the widening and twinning of the highway should be compensated by expanding the boundaries of the park. Rehabilitating disturbed sites associated with the project will be important to minimise long-term effects. 
  • The safety of the current Field intersection and the importance of a safe crossing for access to the Tally-Ho trail are concerns expressed by residents of Field.
What We Heard
... About Education and Communication

Key ideas expressed on this topic include:

  • More effort is required to address undesirable visitor behaviours and promote the concept of shared park stewardship. Sharing space with wildlife, littering, and Leave No Trace principles were topics of interest. 
  • Providing education to Canadians who do not visit the park through outreach and various media is supported by many, while others suggested that building connection only comes from direct experience with the place and in-park interpretation programs. 
  • Parks Canada was encouraged to provide more interpretive learning opportunities on various topics including conservation science, Indigenous heritage, the Burgess Shale, and the history of the park.
  • Input from young Canadians revealed a strong interest in learning about the natural and cultural heritage of the park, and in being involved in research programs that lead to a better understanding of important issues such as climate change. The value of in-park education facilities such as the Palisades Centre in Jasper National Park was highlighted, and Parks Canada was encouraged to consider similar facilities in other parks. 

How the Plan Changed ... 

Numerous revisions were made to the draft Park Management Plan as a result of the feedback received from Phase 2 of the Indigenous and Public Engagement Program. These include:

  • Acknowledgement of the historical and current significance of the area to Indigenous peoples, and affirmation of the ongoing and central role for them in the park’s future;
  • Revision of some targets and addition of a number of new targets to address input related to working with Indigenous partners, addressing light pollution, mitigating effects of highway construction, addressing climate change, improving cycling opportunities, protecting and interpreting the park’s cultural heritage, and providing stewardship education; 
  • Recognition of the potential role of the mountain national parks as climate refugia that can support ecosystem adaptation to climate change;
  • Clarification of Parks Canada’s 10-year management planning cycle, and the role of annual implementation reporting and stakeholder engagement; 
  • Addition of context to explain and situate the Climate Change Key Strategy within the broader Parks Canada Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • Recognition that achieving many of the targets and objectives in the plan will depend on the interests and capacity of Indigenous partners and other collaborators. 

The approved Yoho National Park of Canada Management Plan can be viewed and downloaded at:

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