Positive meeting in Field but Parks cuts will still come

Parks Canada superintendent for the Yoho and Kootenay attended a meeting Field where the future of the town was discussed.

A group of almost 50 residents turned up to a meeting in Field to ask questions to Dave McDonough, Parks Canada superintendent for the Yoho and Kootenay Field unit about how cutbacks to services in Field are going to affect the community moving forward.

After a meeting the previous week with MP David Wilks concerned citizens had the chance to hear information provided by McDonough.

“I thought it was a good meeting. It was well attended by the residents of Field. There were some very thoughtful, and sincere questions,” McDonough said.

Some of the main concerns raised by the residents at the meeting were linked to the sustainability of the town and how the cutbacks were going to affect the area.

“The questions centre around this and how the effects could be mitigated. I explained in the terms of a national approach that Parks Canada has had to deal with significant reductions as many departments did. We want to focus our resources on the time of year when the parks are the busiest,” he said.

In McDonough’s opinion this means serving as many customers as possible during the busiest times of the year in the parks.

“We have invited the business community in Field to take part in a workshop where we focus on how can we move forward to promote the winter in Yoho and Field. We are working towards that,” McDonough said.

He went on to explain Parks is also looking at how to promote local products at the Visitors Centre in the form of a kiosk that would be in the area where the bathrooms, and remain open in the winter months along with better signage on the highway.

As for the cross country ski trails, McDonough said talks are continuing on the issue.

“We have initiated a process for an alternative way track setting could be done in Yoho. We as Parks Canada would not be in a position to actively do it, but we certainly want to work with stakeholders to find a way it could be done.”

As for the hope of reversing the decision to close the Visitors Centre in the winter months, McDonough did not see Parks Canada changing their position at this time.

“We have to find those savings and we look at visitation patterns. Visitation is quite low  in the winter time. We are not looking at re-opening it,” McDonough said.