Thursday, May 19, 2011
Happy 100th Birthday, Parks Canada!
The park system was formalized in 1911 as the Dominion Parks Branch. The wide open spaces of the nation became populated over time, and the government found it necessary to expropriate private land, sometimes whole communities, to clear the way for more parks. Following a public enquiry in 1980, the Act was revised so that the practice of expropriation was prohibited. Negotiations and public consultations became part of the process, and out of these consultations came the emphasis on environmental protection and conservation of ecological values. Parks Canada has evolved with the goal to have a national park or national park reserve in each of 39 ecological regions of Canada.
Recent national park acquisitions and management plans have taken care to include First Nations so that lands that have aboriginal claim can be part of the Parks Canada system. These park lands, designated as Park Reserves, were made possible by a 1976 amendment to the National Parks Act that required Parks Canada to negotiate agreements with First Nations who have unresolved land claims to the area.
We are also celebrating the 8th anniversary of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR), one of several park reserves established and managed through consultation with First Nations. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve represents the Strait of Georgia Lowlands natural region, protecting approximately 26 square km in 29 sites on 15 islands including 30 islets and reefs, with special attention to the endangered Garry oak ecosystem. Visitors are welcome, and are reminded to keep dogs on a leash, to not feed the wildlife and stay on the designated trails. As part of the celebrations, Parks Canada is hosting a Centennial Geocache Challenge – the first 100 visitors to complete the cache will receive a limited edition centennial geocoin.