Good morning, everybody.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here this morning and for your excellent testimony. I think for our first session on this heritage study, it paints a really good picture of where we're at right now with heritage protection in Canada and some of the successes, as well as some of the challenges, we face.
I also want to thank the committee for agreeing to dedicate some time in this fall session for this study. Hopefully you've seen, through the discussion already this morning, why there is such a need for some interest in perhaps revisiting where we're at with heritage protections in the country.
I have so many places to start. I'd like to thank Parks Canada for the very realistic comments, the accurate picture you portray, that we have a system of national historic sites. I guess where I'm going is that I see there are two pieces we're talking about. One of them is what I would term getting the federal house in order: the things the federal government owns and is responsible for, from historic sites owned by Parks Canada to other historic sites and archeological resources. Then there's the federal leadership outside of the federal piece, and those are the things that Natalie and her organization were able to talk about.
I want to start with the federal house in order piece, looking at some of the legislative requirements and processes. To begin with, looking at national historic sites, I think we said there are 171. We did a study earlier this year on national parks and looking at systems plans. Could Parks Canada provide a comment—perhaps Dr. Alway as well—on how the current designation process works, how it goes from kind of a grassroots program, looking at persons, places, and events of national significance, and who determines at what point those may move over to federal ownership, either by Parks Canada or under federal departments?
I think we have an existing collection, but is there any opportunity for the addition of new ones? Perhaps in your response to this systems plan piece, you could comment on what's happened over the last, say, 20 years related to new sites. Maybe Dr. Alway could start.