In response to Gordon Stermann's letter in the Aug. 26 edition of the Outlook wondering what the credentials of Preserving the Access, Recreation and Tradition of the Bow Valley Parkway (PART), I am happy to provide some background and context to the notice.
Enhanced cycling opportunity versus scenic drive closed: both headlines are accurate. It's about context. Nothing in the advertisement is fabricated and I am pleased that you found it "somewhat alarming." It is.
In 1996, a massive document called the Banff-Bow Valley Study was released, which had more than 500 recommendations as to how Banff National Park could be saved from certain ecological doom. While some of the recommendations were sensible and doable, others such as removing the Rimrock Resort Hotel cast dubious credibility of such a report.
Of the 500 actions recommended, Parks Canada acted on 125 of them.
One contentious directive was to close the parkway entirely all winter and in the summer make it only accessible by enclosed buses. Parks Canada approved this direction. PART was then created.
A consortia was created and included all of the OCA's leaseholders on the parkway to have a collective opposition voice against this directive – a recommendation that did not and still does not have a single study created to support such a closure. Brad Pierce, the founder of the Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment, strongly supported our cause. David Morrison, the CEO of Brewster Inc., Ted Kissane of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotels, Ian Mackie of the former Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association, biologist and photographer Doug Leighton and countless others raised their voices loudly for inclusion rather than exclusion that Banff National Park is for all Canadians and the freedom to access the parkway on their own free will and choice.
It was the most controversial action of Parks Canada and out of the 125 new actions and directives was the only one overturned. The then superintendent of Banff National Park, Charlie Zinkan, struck a reasonable and sensible balance with a spring time dusk to dawn restriction.
Without PARTs intervention, you would not be able to do your winter tours down the parkway for canyon icewalks – nor be able to plan future e-bike rentals. I'm happy to provide you with some new history for your future tours.