The article “Positive Meeting in Field but Parks cuts will still come” published in the June 6, 2012 Golden Star failed to represent the views of Field residents. The overall feeling at the end of the Town Hall Meeting with Superintendent McDonough was frustration and disbelief.
Frustration with the pat answers Mr. McDonough offered to every observation of how negatively Parks Canada’s budget cuts will impact Yoho National Park and the community of Field. Disbelief that Mr. McDonough could fail to engage in meaningful dialogue with people who live in Field, who provide services to national park visitors and work really hard to make a living in this National Park townsite.
Parks Canada has suggested holding marketing workshops with Field businesses and stakeholders to help “mitigate” the winter closure of the Field Visitor Centre and find replacement track setting options for the cross country skiing trails in Yoho National Park. It is odd that Parks Canada has money to hire marketing specialists, but doesn’t have money to operate and maintain Yoho National Park or Field Townsite as mandated in the Management Plan and Community Plan, legal documents treated with apparent disregard by Parks Canada managers. Yes, the meeting was well-attended. No, the meeting was not positive. Parks Canada management has a strategy to uphold the message, refuse to negotiate or discuss options to cut expenses in other areas that will have less impact.
Parks Canada has failed to provide financial justification for these decisions beyond saying it will save about $62,000 and reduce the workforce by three part-time positions. These actions look good on paper, but have the capacity to devastate a vibrant, exciting community in a rare, non-commercialized protected area.
Do you travel the TransCanada Highway between Golden and Calgary in the winter? Are you someone who has skied the beautiful winter trails in Yoho National Park? Have you stopped in Field for coffee, lunch, supper, a visit to the pottery shop, or to see Burgess Shale fossils? If services in Yoho National Park and Field are important to you, then let Parks Canada know your feelings. Write to MP David Wilks (David.Wilks@parl.gc.ca), Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Environment Minister Peter Kent (Minister@ec.gc.ca).
Chair, Field Community Council