Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:
As a concerned resident of Haines Junction I would like to raise some serious concerns regarding the demise of Kluane National Park and Reserve.
As noted in the recent budget speech, Parks Canada across the country is in bad shape due to continuing budget cuts to operations and maintenance compounded with major reductions to staff. These policies may go unnoticed in Canada’s large urban centres but in small rural communities that depend upon destination tourism, largely fueled by the presence of the federal National Parks and Historic Sites, the effects are devastating.
As you know, our community is marketed as the “Gateway to Kluane.” That gateway as a result of years of re-organizations and reductions is now closed for the majority of the year and only open half-time during our busiest season from May to September.
Our economy depends upon the 100-day season to keep businesses afloat throughout the year. Recent changes to close the popular Kluane National Park Visitor Centre and move the operations centre have been further exacerbated by the decree, without consultation of local residents or the business community, to keep the new Parks Canada portion of the Da Ku Cultural Centre staffed only from May long weekend to the end of the September long weekend.
Statistics from previous years show August to mid-September as our busiest time, yet tourists and residents are denied access to the exhibits, displays and audio-visual show. On what basis was this decision made?
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that this new multi-million dollar facility, leased on a year-round basis to Parks Canada, remains closed to the public to save the cost of information/interpretation staff.
Over the years we have lost our interpretive programs for traditionally offered campfire talks and guided walks, winter use of ski trails and maintenance of the Kathleen Lake day use area. These reductions in service, coupled with the premature closure of the visitor centre, is clearly unacceptable and cannot be justified on any economic platform when we see huge amounts of infrastructure money wasted in the community when we cannot even open the door to facilities.
Your response would be appreciated.