Monday, April 4, 2011

National Parks

Hi to all pilots, 

As most of you know, HPAC has been working for nearly three years with Parks Canada to reverse a decades-long prohibition against hang gliding and paragliding in National Parks. I am repeating a little of the background here for new pilots who have recently joined our community. 

NATIONAL ASSESSMENT: In Fall 2008 Parks Canada conducted a two-day National Assessment of our sport and whether its practise in Parks would be in harmony with the uses for National Parks. We had commissioned an independent Environmental Impact Assessment to demonstrate both the environmental as well as socio-economic impacts of our sport in preparation for this Assessment. 
The result in the Fall of 2010 was that the prohibition was reversed in principle, but still required written policy and regulatory changes to become "legal". While several other sports were being considered over the last couple of years, ours was the only one that required the more complex regulatory changes, that would lay the groundwork for approaching individual park superintendents for permission to fly in any given park. 
Just recently, Parks Canada's package on our sport, completely approved and requiring only the Minister's signature, was delivered to the Minister's Office. 

THE CURRENT ELECTION: Then the election was recently called before the signature could be obtained. The package is now back with Parks Canada and will be resubmitted for signature by the Minister, as soon as the election is over, a new minister has been named and the office is open for business (this could be the fall, if the House does not get called back before then, or later this spring, if they do). Parks Canada informs us that because there are no budgetary requests attached and because it is a totally non-partisan issue, the signature will be forthcoming easily, regardless of who the minister or party will be. Parks Canada has invested a large amount of funding to expand the numbers of activities that can take place in Parks, and we are part of that initiative. 

LOCAL ASSESSMENT: After the signature has been obtained, it becomes "the law" of the land which means that individual Park Superintendents can then allow flying in their park, if they choose. But they are not obligated to allow it, as they have final jurisdiction as to what takes place in their park. A number of Parks have been identified for being approached by Parks Canada-designated pilots from our community, when we get the go-ahead by Parks Canada after we have "the signature". 
For the Atlantic, it is Michael Fuller; Mountain Parks (BC and Alberta) Will Gadd; Quebec Dom Juretic and BC Gulf Islands Margit Nance. Please contact any of these people if you have questions about your region. 

Further Updates will be forthcoming as we get them. But most important, FLYING IN NATIONAL PARKS CONTINUES TO BE ILLEGAL. Prematurely doing so will jeopardize that Park from the get-go and so we appreciate your patience a little longer. Thanks to all. 

Margit Nance 
Site Preservation Chair, HPAC
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