Let’s persevere in fighting Parks Canada cuts

Let's persevere in fighting Parks Canada cuts On behalf of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon I would like to commend all of the members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly for supporting last Wednesday's motion, urging the federal government t

On behalf of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon I would like to commend all of the members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly for supporting last Wednesday’s motion, urging the federal government to recognize the value of Parks Canada sites in the Yukon and asking the federal government to ensure that tourism here is not jeopardized as a result of the recent federal cuts.

As it currently stands, these cuts will adversely affect the way in which our culture and our attractions are showcased. Eliminating all of the curatorial staff dedicated to the care and display of Dawson’s collections, ending guided tours of the SS Klondike and Dredge No. 4, and scaling back services such as search and rescue capabilities in Kluane – these cuts will hurt our tourism industry and will directly or indirectly affect businesses in the Yukon that rely on tourist traffic.

We need a well-thought-out plan to effectively manage the products and services that Parks Canada can no longer afford, and time is of the essence: The start of the 2013 peak season is less than six months away. The federal government, having handled this product for numerous years, has a responsibility to facilitate this much-needed dialogue with tourism stakeholders in an effort to find solutions. The federal government owes Yukoners this much.

Parks Canada has traditionally enhanced the visitor experience for those who come to the Yukon; reducing these services will result in effectively reducing the visitor experience. This will affect every sector of the tourism industry at some level.

While the product that Parks Canada oversees may not be the “main reason why people come to the Yukon,” as some have said, to say that it is not worth proper investment is foolhardy. How many people go back to their respective provinces, states and countries, with stories of the amazing things that the Yukon has to offer? Do we want to jeopardize this?

Do we want people to say that they had an “OK” time here, or do we want to provide them with the time of their lives? The balance is held by many of the services that Parks Canada offers and the sites that it oversees.

We have contacted MP Ryan Leef’s office regularly over the last few months regarding this matter, but we have yet to receive any new information about how the federal government plans to address the gaps in services here that will result from the cuts to Parks Canada.

Time is slipping by. Yukon’s tourism industry operates on an 18-month planning horizon, so this issue is overdue for urgent attention. We encourage anyone who is concerned about this issue to add your voice to ours, by writing directly to Yukon’s MP, with a cc to TIA Yukon and to your respective MLA.

Together, we can ensure that Yukon’s tourism industry remains a significant driver of the territory’s economy and that the Yukon’s incredible story continues to be effectively told.

Neil Hartling

Chair, Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon

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