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1
Calgary
Banff Lake LouiseRadiumCanmoreInvermereGoldenField
YohoNationalParkKootenayNationalParkBanff NationalParkPeterLougheedProvincialPark
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Chapter 1 The Banff-Bow Valley Study
1.1 Background
For more than a century, Canada has demonstratedits commitment to preserving our natural heritage.Surrounded by what must have seemed unlimitedwilderness, early legislators still understood the needto set aside land for the benefit of all Canadians.Their foresight has given us one of the world’s mostsignificant protected areas - Banff National Park.
 Preservation and Development 
Born as a “public park and pleasure grounds for…the people of Canada”, Banff National Park’spopularity grew quickly. By 1912, more than 70,000people visited the Park annually, many to enjoy the“curative properties” of the hot springs. Today thisnational park welcomes more visitors than any otherpark in the country. In 1995 alone, 5.01 millionpeople came to Banff National Park.As the number of visitors grew, so did the Park’sfacilities and services. The CPR mainline and theTrans-Canada Highway, both vital nationaltransportation links, follow the Bow River throughthe Park. To accommodate visitors there are morethan 5,600 hotel rooms, 60 restaurants and 175specialty shops. In all, more than 1,300 businessesare licensed to operate in the Park. The populationof the Town of Banff is approximately 7,600 and of the Hamlet of Lake Louise 1,560. This includespermanent, transient and seasonal residents.Most of this development is centred at the heart of Banff National Park, in the Banff-Bow Valley. Thisvalley plays a unique role in the ecology of theregion. The valley bottom is relatively warm anddry, supporting an inviting mix of meadows, aspen forest, and evergreenstands. Through this landscape flowsthe Bow River, linking the mountainslopes, waterways and soils in anecosystem, rare in the RockyMountains, known as the montaneecoregion. Travelling up from thevalley floor, the landscape unfoldsthrough the thick forests of spruceand fir of the subalpine, and onto theopen meadows and rugged mountainsummits of the alpine ecoregion.The montane ecoregion needsspecial attention. This is primehabitat for wildlife, especially inwinter. They seek food and refugehere where the climate is mild andthe vegetation abundant. Coveringonly 4.2% of the Park’s Bow River watershed, themontane supports many more plants and animalsthan surrounding areas. It is also a populardestination for visitors, drawn by the area’s naturalsplendour and by the many attractions it has tooffer. Roads, trails, the Town of Banff, and otherfacilities are located here; this infrastructure coversabout 20% of this already small ecoregion and hasan effect on a much wider area.
The Search for Balance
The need to balance the forces of preservation andthe forces of development has marked the history of this national park since its creation. Even in theearly days, people were concerned aboutdevelopment and resource harvesting in a nationalpark and, in 1889, the government passedregulations to protect forests and game, and preservenatural phenomena.Today, this need for balance is more critical thanever. The concentration of people and facilities inthe Bow Valley has changed this dynamic ecosystemover time. Concern is growing that the area’secological integrity has, or could, suffer permanentdamage. This is the reason why the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced the Banff Bow ValleyStudy in March 1994. In contrast to past studies,which focussed on the effects of individual projects,the Banff-Bow Valley Study was asked to take a widerview. It was asked to assess the cumulativeenvironmental effects of development and use in theentire Bow River watershed inside the Park.
 Figure 1.1 Banff-Bow Valley Study Area
 
2
1.2 Mandate
The study’s terms of reference described its purpose:
“The Bow Valley Study will be a comprehensiveanalysis of the state of the Bow Valley watershed in Banff National Park. The study will provide abaseline for understanding the implications of existing and future development and human use,and the impact of such on the heritage resources.The study will integrate environmental, socialand economic considerations in order to developmanagement and land use strategies that aresustainable and meet the objectives of theNational Parks Act.”
Objectives
The Banff-Bow Valley Study had three majorobjectives:to develop a vision and goals for the Banff BowValley that will integrate ecological, social andeconomic values;to complete a comprehensive analysis of existinginformation, and to provide direction for futurecollection and analysis of data to achieveongoing goals; andto provide direction on the management ohuman use and development in a manner thatwill maintain ecological values and providesustainable tourism.
Strategies
This final report recommends strategies to theMinister that:recognize areas where existing land use activitiesare appropriate, areas where development anduse have exceeded the ecological or socialcapacity of the area, and areas where additionalactivities are possible;maintain or enhance the area’s tourism potentialconsistent with the Park’s ecological integrityobjectives;fill critical information gaps and supportsustainable management and use practices in thefuture;provide a set of key indicators useful forassessing changes in the integrity of the Banff-Bow Valley and possible thresholds beyondwhich ecological integrity cannot bemaintained;reduce existing detrimental environmentaleffects and prevent/reduce adverse effects of future development, park operations and otherland use activities.
 Restrictions on Development 
In announcing the Banff-Bow Valley Study, theMinister of Canadian Heritage placed restrictions ondevelopment in the Valley until the study wascomplete. Certain projects, already underway orsubject to other review processes, were exempt fromthis restriction. These included the Sunshine LongTerm Development Plan and the twinning of theTrans-Canada Highway between Sunshine andCastle junctions.In addition, Parks Canada considered developmentsthat met any of the following criteria:1.Projects related to health and safety andenvironmental protection.2.Projects with an EARP registered as of March 31,1994.3.Projects subject to a contractual obligation.4.Projects to replace or maintain an existingfacility.5.Projects in the Town of Banff. This reflected theTown’s special status and existing federal/provincial agreements.6.Projects that were well underway or that offereda net environmental gain. The EnvironmentalAssessment and Review Process was used toexamine these projects in detail.7.
 Minor 
projects on previously disturbed land or
minor 
projects that did not increase the level of human use on a leasehold; these projects did notrequire additional staff.
 
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1.3 Task Force and Secretariat
Task Force
To achieve a balance among all parties with aninterest in the area, the members of the Task Forcehad to be independent of government andexperienced in various disciplines. Made up of individuals from the academic and private sectors,the Task Force brought together people withexpertise in ecological sciences, tourism, publicpolicy and management. (See Appendix 9.7 forcomplete biographies of the members of the TaskForce.)
Dr. Robert Page
, chair of the five-person Task Force,is recognized internationally for his work onenvironment and development issues. Dr. Page isDean of the Faculty of Environmental Design at theUniversity of Calgary.
Dr. Suzanne Bayley
is an ecologist and respectedresearcher with experience applying science tocomplex management issues. She is an AssociateProfessor in the Department of Biological Sciences atthe University of Alberta.
 J. Douglas Cook
has many years of executiveexperience with Imperial Oil and has been involvedin several national studies on the environment. Mr.Cook is the President and CEO of TaurscaleConsultants Ltd.
 Jeffrey E. Green
is a wildlife ecologist whospecializes in environmental impact assessment,development issues and policy. He is a Principal inAxys Environmental Consulting Ltd. and Managerof that firm’s British Columbia and NorthernRegion.
Dr. J.R. Brent Ritchie
holds the professorship inTourism Management, in the Faculty of Management, and is the chair of the World TourismEducation and Research Centre, at the University of Calgary. He currently serves as a director of theAlberta Tourism Partnership Corporation.
Secretariat 
The Secretariat, besides coordinating administrative,professional, technical and research support for theTask Force, was instrumental in encouraging publicinput to the Banff-Bow Valley Study. The permanentmembers of the Secretariat were:Doug Hodgins, Executive DirectorEva Katic, Research/Administrative AssistantChristine Kraayvanger, Round Table AssistantRichard Mudry, Public Involvement andCommunications CoordinatorCharlie Pacas, Ecological Science Officer Jan Bloomfield provided valuable advice on tourismin the early days of the study and was also a memberof the Scientific Review Committee.Bev Darbyshire added her knowledge of the tourismsector during a six-month assignment from theAlberta Department of Economic Development andTourism.Kim Fraser also spent six months with theSecretariat, where she began the public involvementprocess.Cathy Hourigan, a Parks Canada librarian, workedout of the Banff-Bow Valley Study office andprovided support services for the study.

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