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

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Do you think you have enough room, or are you going to need more room to plant two billion trees?

10:10 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

Two billion is a lot of trees.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Do you have any idea how many acres it might take?

10:10 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

Parks Canada won't be able to deliver...won't be the sole body that would be able to do that. We don't have the estimate right now on what our potential would be.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

But you have been made aware. You're part of the plan for the two billion trees.

10:10 a.m.

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

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you very much.

Mr. Schiefke, you have five minutes.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'd like to thank our guests for being here. It's good to see you again.

The question I have is with regard to climate change and how it affects our national parks. Obviously climate change is affecting all facets of Canadian life, and I would imagine that it is also having an impact on our national parks.

I'm wondering if you can share with the committee members what impact it is having, if any, and whether or not Parks Canada has any mitigating or adaptation measures that are being put in place for that.

10:10 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

You will see around Canada, and obviously in our places as well, some of the impacts that we're seeing in relation to climate change. Flooding is certainly something we've been dealing with up north in glacier melting. Particularly in Kluane, we're seeing some impacts.

There's no question that we're seeing impacts. We've done regional assessments for every region to look at what the actual impact of climate change will be in degrees. We've also created an adaptation tool kit of best practices that we've seen used.

We've done six of these regional workshops now. They've brought together partners in the academic world and interested provincial or other partners to take a look at that data and at what the impacts will be specifically in that region. That may be specific to the site or more broadly. We conducted one out in British Columbia and had a look at what is going to happen to the cultural sites that are shoreline sites and to some of our assets and infrastructure, and how we think this is going to impact species at risk in their movement.

All of that work of increasing our knowledge is under way. We're starting to take some of those adaptation actions now, certainly around infrastructure but also in some of our planning. As we look at new park establishment, we're trying to predict what the impact to species will be when we look at zoning or the size of a park boundary that we're trying to establish. We are trying to integrate the impacts of climate change into all elements of park management. With management plans, we're now looking at climate change impacts and trying to predict those as well.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

I look forward to seeing those when they are made available, and I imagine that all committee members do. Thanks for that work.

My second question is on the income stream for Parks Canada.

I was actually pleasantly surprised in my original briefing to hear that up to 25% of the funding comes from revenues from ticket admission prices and that kind of stuff. Has there been any study conducted on how to maximize or increase those revenues to provide greater capacity for Parks Canada to do its work outside of the vast majority of the funding coming from the federal government? If so, what does that look like?

10:10 a.m.

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

Michael Nadler

Absolutely, there has, and in fact we're constantly innovating our offer. I mentioned earlier, in my response to a different question, how more and more we're addressing our service and visitor offer to better reflect Canada's diversity. We've seen steady increases in visitation—peaking in 2017, obviously, with free admission—and we're now at roughly the highest level of visitation we've experienced in quite some years.

The Service Fees Act of 2017 has allowed us also to modernize some elements of our fee structure. We continue to look at the requirements of the act in terms of ongoing refinement and improvement of our fee structure. Part of the objective there is to improve our revenues, but it's also to make sure those elements of our services that bring a public benefit remain very affordable, while those that are more tied to a private or business benefit reflect a better balance in terms of cost recovery.

February 27th, 2020 / 10:15 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

If I could add to that, as an example, a few years ago we renegotiated our relationship with the hydro industry. We have 26 hydro dams. We renegotiated that relationship for set fees. That provides a significant amount of revenue into the agency.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Okay.

This is the last question I have. I think it's for the general knowledge of all committee members if they're unaware, but we do have a mascot.

10:15 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Exactly—I see some faces of confusion.

Can one of you perhaps talk about the nature and history of the mascot and how perhaps we can better utilize this mascot to promote Parks Canada—

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

You have 20 seconds.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

—and provide that in 20 seconds?

10:15 a.m.

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

Michael Nadler

Yes. We have a mascot named “Parka”, who is a gender-neutral beaver that comes from Wood Buffalo National Park. Our core audience is families. Parka is there to engage children and appears at a number of events and places. Also, Parka is actually a great partner in the media sector.

In fact, Radio-Canada features cartoons produced by Parks Canada and drawn by young people in Quebec.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you.

Madame Pauzé, you have two and a half minutes.

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'd like to know whether the agency is responsible for promoting 20th century architecture and industrial heritage.

You talked about natural and cultural heritage, but is protecting industrial heritage part of your mandate?

10:15 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

We have sites like the Lachine Canal, which is part of Canada's industrial heritage. We also have a number of historic sites that are grain elevators.

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

How do they become recognized by UNESCO? Is that part of your mandate?

10:15 a.m.

Senior Vice-President, Operations, Parks Canada Agency

Andrew Campbell

Our group is responsible for dealing with UNESCO. Right now, no sites in Canada are on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites, except, perhaps, for the Rideau Canal.

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

We have a request, and it concerns Arvida, in the Lac-Saint-Jean region.

I have here the Guide to the Parks Canada Environmental Impact Analysis Process. The most recent version we were able to find is from June 2015.

Is that still the one the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is using, or do you have an updated one?

10:15 a.m.

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

Darlene Upton

We've already updated the guidance in the new system, which was created to address the requirements in the new legislation.