CANMORE – Green Party candidate Austin Mullins is calling for significant investment in public transportation in the Bow Valley and beyond as a way to deal with the increasing environmental pressures from growing visitation.
With more than four million visitors coming to Banff National Park every year, Mullins said he believes one of the answers lies in significant funding investment in public transportation in the Bow Valley, and to Calgary, Cochrane and Airdrie.
“If we can’t decrease visitation, we can get cars off the road. We can lessen our impact in the valley,” he said during the 100 Debates on the Environment federal election forum Thursday (Oct. 3).
“With the same amount of people coming in, so I would really like for easy, reliable and affordable public transit in the Bow Valley and across Canada.”
The Green Party’s platform indicates it will increase funding to Parks Canada to the tune of $50 million a year to maintain for the next five years, and where necessary restore, ecological integrity.
“When we have all these people coming in – and we really can’t stop it, they’re going to come – increase funding to protect the space, then we will lessen our impact,” said Mullins.
During last Thursday (Oct. 3) evening’s election forum, the Banff-Airdrie candidates were asked: “In order to balance the need to support our tourism industry while still managing these areas for ecological integrity, what do you see as the key opportunities for economic growth in our riding?”
NDP candidate Anne Wilson said she doesn’t believe there needs to be any additional opportunities for economic growth, adding perhaps a passenger railway and more interpretive services.
“I really don’t think we need any more impact on some of our precious wild spaces,” she said.
Nadine Wellwood, the People’s Party of Canada’s Banff-Airdrie candidate, said the federal government could look at funding as well as policy changes.
“I think people protect things that they love, so I think we need to provide better access to our national parks,” she said.
Providing access to protected areas and preserving the environment doesn’t need to be at odds, said Wellwood.
“I believe in preserving our environment and I am also being very realistic in saying people do love and will protect what they love and enjoy,” she said.
Banff-Airdrie Conservative incumbent Blake Richards declined an invitation to the election forum and Liberal candidate Gwyneth Midgley reported she had a previous commitment.