I want to thank Reg Bunyan from the Bow Valley Naturalists for acknowledging the social consequences of overtourism along with its negative impacts on ecological systems.
Health and social impacts are often overlooked in the analysis of visitation to our mountain parks.
As a family physician, I bear witness to these effects in my work – patients with burnout, increased work stress and injuries due to overwork or understaffing.
Bow Valley workers have always been used to working hard during peak seasons, but now cannot rejuvenate physically and mentally during quieter periods, as the demand for visitor services is unabated year-round.
While increased tourism may increase profits for business owners, the jobs created are mostly unskilled, physically-demanding and low-wage.
Disparity between the earning potential of workers and the high cost of living in the area leads to glaring inequity and a host of other problems.
Lack of affordable housing means workers to live in substandard accommodation characterized by overcrowding, lack of privacy, and vulnerability to exploitation by landlords.
Mental health problems and substance use disorders continue to be health concerns as in the past, but are exacerbated by increasing and unrelenting pressure on workers.
I call upon Parks Canada, provincial and municipal policymakers, and others who manage visitation and economic growth in Banff National Park to pay attention to the human side of the equation when considering the effects of unbridled growth in tourism.