Home » How funding will be spent in Banff National Park for the next five years

How funding will be spent in Banff National Park for the next five years

by K Gordon Schultz

If you care about the protection and preservation of Banff National Park as much as we do, you were no doubt thrilled to hear of the investment that has been promised by Canada’s federal government. Announced back in March, the $39.3 million cash injection will fund a number of exciting projects, each vital for the conservation of local wildlife and the enjoyment of the thousands of visitors that grace the park each year. As Canada’s largest national park, and the world’s third largest, Banff’s importance is immeasurable; it is therefore so important that the investment is spent wisely, and with the future in mind.

Why it matters: the importance of caring for Banff

The caves and hot springs that became the foundation for Banff National Park were discovered in 1883 by railway construction workers and, since then, millions of visitors have come to enjoy this area of outstanding natural beauty and the wildlife that it is home to. Covering 6,641 square kilometers, the park is expansive to say the least, and it quickly became one of Canada’s most beloved tourist spots, and one of the world’s top visitor destinations; last year, almost 4 million people came to admire Banff’s beauty. The announcement of the government’s investment was, therefore, incredibly welcome; bringing in a large amount of revenue for the local area, and Canada, Banff is incredibly deserving of the projects that will now rehabilitate its most visited spots and the wildlife that has come to settle there. It is hoped that many species on the brink of extinction, as well as those yet to be discovered, will continue to thrive following these much-needed improvements, and that visitors will be further encouraged to appreciate the park’s rich cultural heritage. So much more than that, though, the $39.3 million that has been pledged by the government will ensure that the park is preserved for many more years.

Details of the many projects that are planned have begun to emerge already and, as you can imagine, it is vital that the investment is managed by an organization that is used to coping with such vast sums of money and immeasurable responsibility. Experienced investment management companies, of which Fortress Investment Group LLC, which is co-chaired by Pete Briger, is an example, will no doubt be called upon to handle aspects of the park’s refurbishment; their expertise when it comes to such matters will prove invaluable. Inspiration is already being drawn from the work carried out by Parks Canada across the country; facing budget cuts, the organization is keen to attract visitors and make improvements to each and every park in Canada. There is so much to be learned from each project, and already attitudes to the natural environment are changing. As parks become more accessible, and greater emphasis is placed upon preservation, our enjoyment of the environment increases.

The changes we’re likely to see

Spanning a period of five years, this incredible investment project is likely to see a huge number of changes taking place across Banff National Park; from the improvements of roads and fences, to the increase of marketing and awareness campaigns, very few areas of the park will be left unturned, or without improvement of some kind. While many of the improvements are designed to provide stability and rehabilitate local wildlife, the project’s wider aim is clear – to attract thousands more visitors, and to enable them to fully enjoy the setting and the ecosystems that have come to settle there. In addition, the investment is expected to create jobs and improve infrastructure, two benefits with consequences reaching much further than the park’s borders.

Where will the $39.3 million be spent? It is already clear that there are three main areas in which the money will make the most difference: ecology and wildlife, transport infrastructure, and visitor experience, with an emphasis on recovering at-risk species, improving the park’s ecosystem, educating visitors about the area’s cultural heritage, and ensuring that highways are protected and improved. Projects include the creation of animal underpasses on the Trans-Canada Highway, the rehabilitation of campground beside Lake Louise, the replacement of existing wildlife exclusion fences and the stabilization of areas of highway, improved trails for cyclists and walkers, new signage, the introduction of wildlife cameras, and the recovery of whitebark and limber pine to ensure these at-risk species are replenished. In addition, the investment is expected to greatly improve tourist areas, with the inclusion of new and improved ski runs, a teahouse and observation deck, and better marketing material to educate visitors. Controlled burning, which mimics forest fires to renew and refresh trees and kill pests, is also due to take place. Details of upcoming projects, and their costs, can be found on the government’s website.

All eyes are on Banff National Park, and those working to rehabilitate the area, for the next five years; the government’s pledged investment, which will create jobs, improve infrastructure, and rehabilitate the park’s ecosystem, looks set to greatly increase the number of visitors that make their way to this area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as vastly improving the area for the many species that have come to settle there. Only time will tell what the park will look like once work it is complete, but the expected outcome is already impressive.

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