Sarah Ray (right), guide with Jasper Hikes and Tours, leads a group through the Pyramid Overlook. | W.Niven photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The gallery was full when members of three different guiding organizations formed a delegation at last week’s Jasper municipal council requesting a letter of support.

It was a rare moment of proactive effort to ensure that decades of guiding leadership and experience stay at the table during official discussions.  

As part of its most recent management plan, Parks Canada is working to review the business licensing processes for guided recreational activities and road-based vehicular tours by 2025, in collaboration with other field units.  

“We really want to collaborate with Parks Canada,” said Wendy Niven, Jasper representative for the Interpretive Guides Association (IGA).  

She made her pitch to council with a dozen other representatives from the Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) in person.  

“We the IGA, OCC and APMG really believe that we have in-depth knowledge of how the guiding industry works, how the business end of things works.”

She said the three organizations combined have more than a century of experience in training and certifying guides as well as in guiding members of the public. The IGA alone has more than 60 active guides in Jasper National Park.

Parks Canada confirmed that it met with representatives from these three organizations in February for preliminary discussions.

“As with any engagement process, Parks Canada strives to work collaboratively with all interested parties,” Parks Canada stated in an email to the Fitzhugh.

Parks Canada also assured that those parties would be engaged in further consultations when changes are proposed that will affect them.

“Parks Canada has met with affected businesses well in advance of any proposed change and is committed to continuing to do so as new changes are proposed. Parks Canada values the guiding community and its perspectives.”

Part of their proactivity was in how the business licensing processes were changed for the rafting community. The trio’s plea to council included a written submission that mentioned the rafters.

“To ensure a positive future of outdoor activity guiding in Jasper, the IGA, OCC and ACMG need to be part of the business licensing processes review. Our challenge has been convincing Park Managers of that; to make space for our organizations at the table,” it read.

Niven confirmed that they are only interested in a win-win scenario for Parks and for guides.

She added that municipal council agreed to write that letter of support, just as Tourism Jasper, the Association of Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment, the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta, the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of Alberta and Leave No Trace Canada have already done.

“We hope that by combining our voices, we can be part of a solution that continues to safeguard Jasper National Park, while ensuring there are opportunities for the guiding community to thrive, and visitors to make connections and enjoy this place safely,” their council presentation read.

“Parks Canada will continue to engage and collaborate with Indigenous partners, the public and stakeholders as we work together to implement the 2022 Jasper National Park Management Plan,” read the Parks Canada statement.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 27, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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