Evidence of meeting #4 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was park.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Andrew Campbell  Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency
Darlene Upton  Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency
Stephen Van Dine  Vice-President, Strategic Policy and Investment Directorate, Parks Canada Agency
Michael Nadler  Vice-President, External Relations and Visitor Experience, Parks Canada Agency
Catherine Blanchard  Vice-President, Finance Directorate, Parks Canada Agency

9:40 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

The cannery under the national historic sites program was designated a site of national historic significance, and so within that in.... I'm going to get my dates wrong, but there was a switch of ownership where that came over to the federal government because it was part of the federal cannery structure on the Steveston pier.

When it moved to Parks Canada.... In fact, we haven't had many new historic sites move to us. On the establishment of national parks, obviously the national parks establishment priorities are set out in our national parks plan, so as we move forward, those are the ones that currently have the—

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

All right.

Also in Saskatchewan we have a couple of national parks, and I think we have four historic sites. I was reading through your departmental plan, and in there you said, “The Government of Canada is investing $23.9 million over five years through Budget 2018 to integrate Indigenous peoples' views and histories and to reflect Indigenous cultures in Parks...”

Can you provide a breakdown for the six sites in Saskatchewan? How much of that $23 million is or was spent on those parks?

9:40 a.m.

Catherine Blanchard Vice-President, Finance Directorate, Parks Canada Agency

I don't have those figures with me, but I'm happy to look into them for you. We'll do it as a follow-up.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Okay. If you provide that to the committee, that would be great.

Further to that, you talk about working with indigenous people. Which indigenous people do you work with? Is there a prescription for that, or how does that work?

9:40 a.m.

Vice-President, External Relations and Visitor Experience, Parks Canada Agency

Michael Nadler

There are approximately 300 indigenous communities that are adjacent to Parks Canada places, and we operate in the traditional territories of a great number of indigenous peoples and communities. I don't know that we have an easily accessible, publicly accessible list, but the driver of our collaboration is if a national park, a national historic site, or even a marine conservation area is in the traditional territory of an indigenous group. We collaborate with those groups in the stewardship and management of the parks.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

For the Saskatchewan parks, could you provide me with the people that you collaborate with?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President, External Relations and Visitor Experience, Parks Canada Agency

Michael Nadler

Absolutely we could. We could give you a list.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Great.

In the departmental plan, there is no reference to the province of Saskatchewan. There's in fact no reference to Saskatchewan, New Brunswick or Yukon. Are there future park expansions or activities that are planned for Saskatchewan?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency

Darlene Upton

We don't have anything identified at the moment; however, we're always looking for opportunities to collaborate. In particular—

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Like Meewasin, perhaps?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency

Darlene Upton

In particular we have the establishment of Thaidene Nëné in the Northwest Territories, which is a recent example of a collaboration around an indigenous protected and conserved area.

The agency is always open to it, but we don't have anything on our radar on that now.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you.

Mr. Baker, go ahead for five minutes.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I thank you all for being here today. It's really informative and really interesting.

Hearing the questions and the conversations thus far, I'm a little envious of a lot of my colleagues who have Parks Canada places in their ridings, when I don't have the fortune of having one. Perhaps that's something that will evolve in the future.

I represent a riding called Etobicoke Centre, a western suburban riding in the city of Toronto. One of the things I want to say to you, even though it's not in my riding but it's still in the city of Toronto, is that I congratulate you and thank you for establishing the first national urban park, the Rouge National Urban Park. I think it's great to see the strong working relationship with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and with the City of Toronto, so thank you and kudos on that.

Specifically on that, what are the next steps and timelines? I understand there's a visitor centre that's to be built at the Toronto Zoo. It sounds exciting for a lot of people in the GTA. I wonder if you could share with us what the next steps and timelines are for building that visitor centre.

9:45 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

The visitor centre is in the design phase right now. Part of that design phase will be looking at—to talk about an earlier question—some of the greening elements we can have working there. There is an indigenous circle that represents 11 different indigenous communities around the park, and so that design phase will take all of that as well as community consultations into consideration.

The site has been selected. The site is close to the Toronto Zoo, so there are some great opportunities from a public transit perspective for people in the area to go to that site and visit it using public transit.

Once the design phase is through, we will start the tendering of the construction phase, and from there it will be built, if all goes according to plan, by around 2023.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

In 2023, it will be complete. Is that correct?

9:45 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

Ideally, that's the plan.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Okay, I appreciate that. I understand that these timelines are fluid and can evolve, but that gives me a sense. Occasionally I get asked about that.

This is the environment committee, and on this committee I'm excited to think about how, through the levers of government, we can act to address climate change. Taking a step back a little bit, could you speak a little on the role of marine conservation areas or national parks in addressing climate change? What positive impacts do those have?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency

Darlene Upton

They have a number of positive impacts. We recently did some work, for example, on the ecosystem value of these places, and that could include things from flood mitigation to species protection, climate heat reduction and carbon storage in forests.

Our preliminary numbers are about 2.6 trillion per year for collection by Parks Canada places. It's an enormous number. Those are the big things, and we've done studies now to understand the carbon storage in all our places and the fluxes in the carbon. Protected areas, and especially, as recent studies have shown, managed protected areas contribute to biodiversity goals but also contribute to climate goals as well.

February 27th, 2020 / 9:50 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

I'll jump in for one second because I can answer both Mr. Redekopp's question and yours.

One of the areas in south Saskatchewan, obviously a protected area and one of our most important protected areas, is the natural grasslands. In fact, we are adding property to the Grasslands National Park on an annual basis to try to complete the creation of the park in southern Saskatchewan, which has large ecological and climate change impact for Canadians.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

I appreciate that.

This is a question for Ms. Upton. You mentioned the reports and the studies you've done. Are those things you'd be willing to share with the committee?

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation, Parks Canada Agency

Darlene Upton

Yes, definitely. We share those with a lot of partners already, because climate obviously has no boundaries and it has impacts, and so we do that.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Perfect. Thank you.

Madam Pauzé, you have two and a half minutes.

9:50 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

I'd like to talk about your cultural heritage mandate. You've identified 40 railway stations.

How exactly do they benefit from having a heritage designation?

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President, External Relations and Visitor Experience, Parks Canada Agency

Michael Nadler

That's a good question.

A heritage designation means a lot of things. Normally, proposals for historic sites come from the community. Railway stations are important to communities. It gives them a certain edge. These sites are usually representative of the entire country's heritage, in other words, Canada's cultural heritage.

It can even lead to economic advantages by supporting the community's tourism industry.

Does that answer your question?