What we heard
Kouchibouguac National Park
National park management plans guide the long-term strategic direction of all national parks and contribute to reaching Parks Canada Agency’s mandate, vision and priorities. Plans are intended to reflect the values and views of Canadians. National park management plans are required by the Canada National Parks Act and Parks Canada Agency policies for management planning and reporting.
Kouchibouguac National Park’s new management plan was tabled in parliament on December 16, 2021. The management plan lays out the future direction for the park including a vision, key strategies, measurable objectives with associated targets over the next 10 years. The plan was developed through engagement and consultation with Indigenous groups, partners, stakeholders and interested Canadians.
Parks Canada was forced to extend the legal deadline for Tabling of Kouchibouguac National Park’s Management Plan by one year. In March 2020, COVID-19’s first wave was felt across Canada, putting a halt to many government activities, including public consultations, in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. Federal public consultation activities slowly resumed as Parks Canada adapted to the new reality and found ways to offer Canadians meaningful alternatives for consultation.
The public consultation process for the renewal of a National Park Management Plan would typically include a public forum or event to which various partners, stakeholders and the general public are invited to participate and share their views on the Draft Management Plan. The pandemic forced us to change the way we gather this important feedback as we strived to follow the advice, guidance, and requirements of public health authorities and experts and continued to make every effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. For these reasons, public participation and consultations using online and remote methods were utilized for the formal consultation process of the Kouchibouguac National Park Management Plan.
Who we heard from
The feedback received during initial engagement sessions with Mi’gmaq partners helped shape KNP’s Draft Management Plan, and the feedback received during subsequent sessions helped to refine the plan and address any outstanding opportunities for improvement.
Kouchibouguac National Park staff played a key role in shaping this new Management plan as their intimate knowledge of the park, in all its facets and complexities, helped position the vision, the objectives and the targets found in the plan for the benefit of all Canadians.
Virtual consultation sessions were held with key community, conservation and tourism stakeholders. These sessions allowed the Parks Canada to pursue targeted discussions in key sectors and served as a strong sounding board on the Draft plan. Finally, we heard from the many Canadians who responded to our online survey and provided us with invaluable feedback that helped refine the final version of the Management plan.
The planning team carefully reviewed and considered all feedback, resulting in a robust and effective strategic document to guide KNP into the future.
Engagement with Mi'gmaq partners and Kouchibouguac National Park staff (Spring and Fall 2019)
1. Key Mi'gmaq partners in New Brunswick
During the spring of 2019, the Kouchibouguac National Park planning team held two half-day in-person workshops with key Mi’gmaq partners: 1) Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI) on behalf of eight Mi’gmaq First Nations communities in New Brunswick, and 2) Kopit Lodge on behalf of Elsipogtog First Nation.
These workshops offered each partner an introduction to the management planning process at Parks Canada and an overview of KNP’s current and foreseeable challenges and opportunities. Sessions offered participants a safe and constructive space to start identifying mutually beneficial opportunities, areas of common concern, challenges and vision elements to consider during the development of the new Management Plan in ways that help support Parks Canada’s mandate.
In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, the workshops gave MTI and Kopit Lodge the opportunity to help draft the preliminary version of Kouchibouguac National Park’s new Management Plan with Parks Canada staff. From the early stages of the management planning process, KNP has been –and continues to be- committed to moving towards a shared stewardship approach for the protection and interpretation of the park’s natural and cultural heritage.
2. Kouchibouguac National Park staff
During the fall of 2019, two facilitated half-day in-person engagement sessions (in English and in French) were offered to Kouchibouguac National Park staff as an opportunity for employees to 1) reflect on the 2010 Management Plan’s achievements and 2) review the main elements of the park’s draft Management Plan.
In total, approximately 50 employees took the time to review and share their comments on the preliminary version of the plan, as well as their views and hopes for the future of Kouchibouguac National Park.
Formal consultations with the Mi'gmaq of New Brunswick, partners, stakeholders and the public (Spring 2021)
Consultation on the draft management plan took place from March 10 to May 12, 2021. During this period, tailored virtual consultation sessions were held with many KNP partners and stakeholders, including Mi’kmaq Knowledge Holders, as well as various representatives from the scientific community, tourism sector, community sector, Kent North Chamber of Commerce, commercial fishing industry, economic development committee of Saint-Louis-de-Kent, and the Société Nationale de l’Acadie. During these sessions, an effort was made to group individuals and organizations in a way that would allow us to focus on common themes, gather expertise and attempt to identify consensus on the direction the plan should take. These sessions covered: The protection of the park’s natural and cultural resources; New Brunswick’s Tourism and Hospitality Sector and; The park’s current and potential future place as a community economic development collaborator with surrounding municipalities.
Other virtual sessions were also held with individual organizations who wanted to contribute to the plan as well as with smaller groups representing specific sectors of interest.
The sessions lasted between 2 and 3 hours and included a presentation on the Draft Management Plan with a focus on the key objectives deemed most relevant to a specific group. Participants were invited to provide comments at key moments in the presentation and during a discussion period afterwards.
A newsletter was developed to communicate the public consultation period and offer a summary of KNP’s draft management plan. The newsletter was mailed out to over 20,000 households across New Brunswick’s Kent and Northumberland Counties, giving an opportunity for local residents to review and provide feedback from the safety of their home. The newsletter was also shared with KNP’s partners and stakeholders prior to the virtual consultation sessions being held and posted online.
A summary of the draft plan and an online comment card were made available to the public on KNP’s website and the Consulting with Canadians website, providing Canadians across the country the means to participate in the consultation. Details on how to participate in the consultation were promoted through local and regional media outlets and social media platforms.
In total, Parks Canada received 217 responses during these consultations. Of the responses submitted, 55 were gathered during the virtual meetings held with KNP’s partners and stakeholders or by written submissions following these sessions; and 162 were submitted through the completion of comment cards.
1. What we heard
The following summary reflects the feedback received from the online comment cards, during tailored virtual consultation sessions with groups of key partners and stakeholders, and the comments submitted through mail, email and by phone. While management plans are high-level, long term strategic documents, written with a results-based approach as opposed to an action plan, some respondents indicated that they would prefer to see more detail in the plan and provided specific ideas as to how the management plan will be implemented. The passion of stakeholders, partners and the public for KNP was evident in the extent and tone of responses, a deep understanding and care for the park, willingness to be engaged, and a desire to stay informed. This was particularly evident in the support voiced for an annual implementation update, reporting on the progress made towards the management plan’s objectives and targets.
Participants were asked to strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree or stay neutral with Parks Canada’s proposed vision for Kouchibouguac National Park. From the responses received, 75% indicated they strongly agreed or agreed with the proposed vision.
The vision proposed in the draft management plan was influenced by feedback received during engagement sessions with Mi’gmaq partners. Additions to the vision based on input received from other partners, stakeholders and the public include: a statement that KNP is established on unceded Mi’gmaw territory, a specific reference to the park’s former residents and Acadian heritage, an emphasis on ecological integrity (including the protection of species at risk) as the number one priority in all aspects of park management.
1.2 Key strategies
The Kouchibouguac National Park Draft Management Plan included four key strategies, each with a set of objectives and targets that will help guide park management decisions for the ten-year life of the plan. Detailed operational plans will determine how objectives and targets are met, and an annual implementation update will outline what has been achieved throughout the plan period.
Participants were asked to strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree or stay neutral with Parks Canada’s proposed key strategies for Kouchibouguac National Park.
Key strategy 1 — A healthy and resillient park
This strategy aims to maintain the park’s various ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial, in good health, as well as to protect the plant and animal species that depend on them.
Responses received showed strong support for Key Strategy 1 with 83% of participants responding in favour of the objectives presented. The main addition to this strategy based on input received includes increasing KNP’s promotional and awareness efforts to showcase the conservation programs conducted at the park.
Key strategy 2 — Kouchibouguac: A park at the forefront
This strategy focuses on innovation in all components of the national park’s management and operations and prioritizes new green and energy-efficient technologies.
Responses received showed strong support for Key Strategy 2 with 83% of participants responding in favour of the objectives presented. The public reiterated the importance of prioritizing the protection of KNP’s ecological and commemorative integrity when planning to develop new and innovative visitor experiences or management approaches.
Key strategy 3 — A reflection of engaged communities
First and foremost, this strategy aims to engage with and involve Mi’gmaq partners, former residents and their descendants, local communities and partners such as the port authorities and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Responses received showed general support for Key Strategy 3 with 74% of participants responding in favour of the proposed orientation. However, consultees strongly voiced the need for Parks Canada to explicitly mention KNP’s Acadian heritage and hopes it will shine a brighter light on the stories of former residents from all cultural backgrounds. Key partners and stakeholders also voiced that they wish to see KNP take a leadership role to support local tourism and economic development opportunities in collaboration with nearby municipalities and other stakeholders.
Key strategy 4 — Highly satisfied visitors throughout the year
Visitor satisfaction is at the core of the last strategy as it aims at offering KNP’s visitors a broader and enhanced range of year-round experiences and services.
Overall, responses received showed great support for Key Strategy 4 with 85% of participants responding in favour of the elements presented with only minor high-level suggestions for improving the strategy. It was, however, expressed that the winter season seems to have the most untapped potential for developing exciting new visitor experiences.
The park planning team is proud to say that the 2021 Management Plan for Kouchibouguac National Park was completed through engagement with Mi’gmaq partners, other partners and stakeholders, local communities and the general public. The final plan has evolved to respond to suggestions and ideas that we heard from you. Our shared vision will guide park management for the next 10 years as we work to implement the key strategies, objectives and targets that will improve ecological and commemorative integrity, visitor experience and our relationships with local communities.
While the management planning process is complete, Parks Canada will be providing annual implementation updates to partners, stakeholders and the general public and, is always open to receiving feedback and suggestions for ways we can work with others to achieve shared objectives.
Kouchibouguac National Park would like to thank Mi’gmaq partners as well as all other partners, stakeholders and members of the public who provided important feedback and input throughout the management planning process. The information and comments that were gathered greatly shaped the new management plan and will help position the park into the future.
Annex A - Demographic information collected through the comment cards (n = 162)
Figure 1: Participants' age group
|25-34||35-44||45-54||55-64||Over 65 years old|
Figure 2: Where participants reside
|Kent County, NB||South-East NB||Northumberland County, NB||Other region in NB||Nova Scotia||Quebec||Other province or territory|
|Where participants reside||45%||31%||10%||8%||2%||3%||1%|
Figure 3: Category that best defines participants
|Local resident||Member of an Indigenous community||Member of the tourism and hospitality sector||Member of an NGO||A spring, summer and fall visitor||A winter visitor||An interested member of the public||Other|
|Category that best defines participants||30%||2%||1%||2%||25%||16%||19%||5%|
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