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

9:20 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

The southern Strait of Georgia has been a bit of a long-standing project, and some of these are like that. We're currently in conversations with many of the first nations communities. One of the challenges and opportunities on the southern Strait Of Georgia is there is 19 indigenous communities that we have to work with.

That's basically where we're at now. We have the support of the province to move forward. We've negotiated a number of agreements with first nations. We're hoping to be able to agree to a feasibility study shortly. There are a lot of conversations going on now with various indigenous communities.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

That would mean large boats that anchor in those areas would no longer be able to. Is that correct?

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

It depends. As with terrestrial parks—and Andrew mentioned the management plan—part of the management planning process is to identify zones. We operate with different zones. We have the ability to protect really sensitive areas with special preservation zones and so focus use in areas that are less potentially ecologically sensitive.

The zoning system is a part of the planning process. It then allows us to look at the other interests in that area, and whether we can, through zoning, reconcile various uses, ensuring that in the case of marine conservation areas, they're sustainable into the future.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

In terms of our targets of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030, what is Parks Canada's role in that? Are you taking a lead on both? It sounds as if DFO is taking the lead on the marine targets. Can you describe that?

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

Parks Canada contributes to both the marine and the terrestrial targets. DFO is the lead federal agency to report those numbers. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the lead federal department to report the terrestrial.

Parks Canada is feeding both of those with our system of protected areas. We work quite closely with both organizations.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Looking ahead, in terms of where we're at right now and where we need to be, are we adequately funding our organizations in order to meet those targets?

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

Right now, the establishment processes can be long. The government's invested quite a bit of money into protected areas. I think we're doing really well right now to explore a number of options.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Forecasting ahead, does it look as if we're on track to meet our targets?

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

I'm not going to comment on that, thanks.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Do I still have a bit of time? It looks as if I do.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

You have two and a half more minutes.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Okay, great.

I'm curious about the Indigenous Guardians program and how Parks Canada is working with that organization and pilot project.

9:25 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

Michael, I'll turn that to you.

9:25 a.m.

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

Michael Nadler

Darlene and I could share that. Let me give you a general answer, and then Darlene can speak to some specific initiatives.

In fact, Parks Canada has been working in collaboration with indigenous peoples across the country on stewardship and management of our places for some years. Some of the earliest programs under the broad definition of guardians stems from Parks Canada's programming. Gwaii Haanas is sort of the classic example of a place where stewardship truly is in the hands of the Haida.

We've replicated that model across the network in a number of places, and even some of the most recent examples include the national historic sites for the wrecks of the Franklin expedition.

We can go through some specific examples if you'd like.

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

I think you're referring to the pilot project. That's being led by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

To Michael's point, Parks Canada has had a number of guardian programs operating for upwards of 20 years in certain parks. It's a model that we know works really well to reconnect indigenous communities with their lands in our places. We continue to support those programs.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

You mentioned, or perhaps one of my colleagues mentioned, the call to action number 79 and the Mapping Change report. I may not have time for this whole question, but I can follow up.

Beyond the indigenous language mapping and sharing culture, are there other calls to action that Parks Canada is working on in terms of the truth and reconciliation commission's calls to action? Are there other projects that are attempting to uphold and respect indigenous rights?

9:25 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

That's the call to action we're specifically responsible for, but a number of the initiatives and the way in which the agency works with indigenous communities are supporting a number of the principles in the calls to action.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you very much.

We have Mr. Mazier for five minutes. We're going into the second round.

February 27th, 2020 / 9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you very much for coming out today. I'm from Manitoba and Riding Mountain National Park's in the middle of my riding. As you tour around any one of our national parks, of course, there are immense amounts of tinder and wood around them. Are there any emergency plans in general? Regarding fire emergency plans, how do you manage those? What is the fire emergency plan?

I can't help but think that when you have a bunch of people and you're trying to attract foreigners, especially people from out of the area, how is that all managed, and what kinds of plans do you have working in the parks?

9:30 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

Maybe I'll do the broader one and then throw the fire management one over to Darlene.

On the broader emergency response and what we call the visitor safety program, certainly within every park and site we have a visitor safety plan that also has an incident command structure around it. If there is an incident, we actually have a way of knowing who actually takes the decisions and how they're taken so that we expedite that decision-making process. Every park and site does have that.

The superintendent of the park or site, normally, is the end authority there, because we want to make sure the decisions are taken from an emergency and incident response at the closest local site we have.

On fire management, Darlene can comment.

9:30 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

Every park known to have a fire risk will have a fire-risk management plan and everything for that. We currently invest about $7 million a year to prevent, mitigate and respond to fire management, and another $1.5 million a year in the use of fire on the land for ecological integrity.

I'm really proud to say, and many people aren't aware of this, that Parks Canada is the only federal agency that has forest firefighters and a mandate to fight fire. We provided 13 of our resources to the deployment in Australia, including the only female who went in the first deployment. We have about 65 year-round firefighters and another 68 or so who come on seasonally, as well as many other staff who are trained for fire management. We're managing about 118 wildfires, on average, a year, and then again a number of prescribed burns we're doing to restore the landscape.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Okay.

Do you allow hunting in any national parks?

9:30 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

Michael can comment.

9:30 a.m.

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

Michael Nadler

The short answer is yes. In situations of hyperabundance of some species, we—

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

How do you pick that?