Letters Sent to Parks Canada
The following letters have been sent to Parks Canada in regards to their proposal to relocate the Visitor Centre.
Put Waterton Project on Hold
Q and A with
Pat Thomsen
Actual Letters
I have been an employee of Parks Canada working in Visitor Services. I am also part of a family who has enjoyed Waterton for multiple generations and has a cabin in Waterton.
I am writing this letter regarding the construction of the new Visitor Reception Centre in Waterton Lakes National Park. I’m sure you are aware by now of the “Save the Waterton Field” initiative (http://savethewatertonfield.com/). I support this initiative and agree with its stance on the construction of the new Visitor Reception Centre.

I do not intend to reiterate specific points from the initiative. I will share my personal thoughts on why the site located on the drive in to Waterton is better suited than the site located in the town site.

1) Having worked many shifts in the current Visitor Reception Centre, something I have observed is that the first stop that most newcomers make when they arrive in Waterton is the Visitor Reception Centre. By placing it on the way into town, tourists will have no problem finding it and they will also be able to start their day in a central location. This will help to alleviate unnecessary traffic and emissions as visitors won’t need to double back from the town site. It will also improve visitor experience, as something else I have observed working in Visitor Services is that the town site is an absolute maze to many of Waterton’s new visitors.

2) Also regarding traffic, the bottleneck (highway 5) that connects the town site to the rest of the park is a nightmare on busy summer weekends. I recall the usual two minute drive from the park management compound to the town site being stretched out to over fifteen minutes several times. A visitor centre in the town would put more strain on a road that cannot be expanded and that already is very congested on busy days. Traffic congestion would be alleviated greatly if the new Visitor Reception Centre were built out of the town site. This would improve visitor’s experience in Waterton greatly. If a proper traffic analysis has not been completed already, I urge those involved in the decision making process to have one completed accurately.

3) The final point I would like to mention is that there are people who consider Waterton their home, even if it is for only a few months of the year. It is more than a typical cottage community for the masses, as it may appear. Waterton is more than just a national park and an entity of the Federal Government. It is also a community of concerned families and individuals who are a crucial part of the region’s cultural history. The construction of the Visitor Reception Centre in town will have a strong effect on these people, and would go against the wishes of the vast majority of them. These people deserve to have their opinions heard and seriously considered, especially in regard to a project of such magnitude.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that if the new Visitor Reception Centre were constructed outside of the town site, it would mutually benefit locals, tourists and the park as a whole.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Dear Ms. McKenna:

HELP!!! Please!
My name is Paula (Olsen) Marshall and I have lived just outside of Waterton Lakes National Park for 51 years (my whole life). It's my home.

The past year the park was given a large sum of money to repair and upgrade certain areas, roadways and buildings that were in bad repair or needing replacement.
I am very grateful for the renovations of my 'home'. I have watched people come and go from my beautiful home and can't help but feel a certain pride in the privilege of seeing fellow Canadians and foreigners enjoy what I hold so dear.

But, just recently public announcement was given about the new VISITOR/INFORMATION CENTRE, as well as, the other improvements that are taking place. That is where I am in need of your help.

Because I have spent my whole life coming and going from my park, I get the opportunity to watch other people recreate in this beautiful area. The number of people visiting this little corner of our world has grown amazingly. But, the size of the park and village remain the same. The proposal of building the new Visitors/Information Centre in the middle of the Village of Waterton will not serve the visitors to this area well.

My family owned and operated a campground just outside of the park for about 20 years. We have witnessed, first hand, the first experience of new visitors to the area. Often they are lost and require direction, or just lost in the amazing landscape and vistas and then find themselves looking for the anchor of information. The old Visitor/Information Centre is sitting alongside the road just above and before the village. This makes it very accessible and easy to find, albeit grossly undersized for the number of visitors that use its services today.

I would hope that you would look into this decision and come to see, as I, and many others, have seen, that the proposed placement of the New Visitor Centre would best serve our visitors in a different, more noticable and accessible location. As proposed, the building and parking for it, would eliminate a large green space, that families lounge on next to the playground on the same block. Also, this area is often congested by RVs entering the Townsite Campground, which is next to the proposed Visitors Centre. More congestion would happen as people are trying to access the facility to find out information that could have been alleviated by having the facility outside of the village.

I realize that a third party review was done and that is why the decision was made for this placement. But I have to wonder, if the party involved has ever been to Waterton on a busy long weekend, when parking is prime real estate, lines are long at the park entrance gates and all people are hoping for is to get on the trails or enjoy an ice cream cone and a stroll along the lake shore to find that perfect skipping stone.

If it is at all in your power to overturn this decision and help keep the beauty of my park from becoming a disappointing experience for many visitors, it would be greatly appreciated by me and my family and many others.

Thank you
Paula Marshall
Mountain View, Alberta

Published in the Lethbridge Herald  

Parks Canada Administration is planning to build a new $7.6 million Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) and parking lot on the green space next to the playground in Waterton Lakes National Park without any genuine consultation with the public.  I see the need for a new Visitor Reception Centre and am in favour of one, just not in the proposed location of this open space.  There are numerous reasons why this green space next to the playground is an undesirable location for the proposed site. 

These are the issues surrounding the proposed site for the new Visitor Reception Centre:
1.    A VRC with the associated traffic, built next to a busy playground and spray park, poses a significant danger to children.
2.    Parks Canada is ignoring its own Community Plan that zones this area as an Environmental/Recreational Reserve where development is prohibited.
3.    The proposed location in the middle of a busy town will increase congestion, be difficult for visitors to find, and would be much easier to locate on the edge of town as is customary with most Visitor Centres.
4.    The parking lot for the VRC will not be able to accommodate the trailers, motorhomes, and charter buses that will be arriving, in addition to the regular car and truck traffic.
5.    This green space has been used by children, young adults, park employees, families, and tourists for generations. This is also a prime location for wildlife to graze.
6.    This is an extremely undesirable choice for a scenic view, as manmade structures surround the area.  Waterton Lake is hardly visible from the proposed site.

The alternative site for the new VRC would be located on the hill close to the Park operations buildings across from middle Waterton Lake. This would be a better solution. This site would provide easy access and visibility for those entering Waterton Lakes National Park as it is on the only road entering the townsite.  There would be extensive space for parking and picturesque views from the hillside. 
I believe no final decisions for any site should be made without public input and thorough review.  A letter writing campaign has been organized to draw attention and garner public support for this issue.

To learn more:
You can visit the website:

Or on Facebook:

Bonnie Fromm
As a local resident who uses Waterton Park year round, I am most concerned by this proposal.  It’s my belief that the site south of the playground on Windflower Ave only looks good on a map but in reality is too well hidden and congested an area for a Visitors Information Center
-This proposal goes against many of Parks Canada Master Plan Guidelines and Initiatives.
-Windflower Avenue is a highly congested area due to high traffic in the downtown area: shops and restaurants, playground and entrance to the main campground.  I have regularly seen RV’s blocking traffic and lined up on this street awaiting their turn to register for camping.  This will certainly hinder access to the VRC.
-This is also congested because of the existing playground and tennis courts.  Cars are looking for parking close to the playground which has become a most popular destination for families.  They would love having the VRC parking available for them and would not hesitate to use it…which creates an impossible situation for the tourist who has just arrived and finally located the information center.
-Location is paramount.  If I were arriving for the first time to Waterton, I would want to be able to easily locate and pull into a well located center with lots of parking.  I would want to know where I was going before I negotiated the destination. 
-Due to growing traffic during the winter, snow removal is a reality and is always a problem in the townsite.
I believe the area in the proximity of the existing Parks Canada Operations Compound would better meet the needs of all visitors, residents and wildlife.
-Congestion would not be an issue.  This area provides accessibility, traffic flow, staff housing requirements, and viable parking space for any vehicle.
-I believe many people would use this parking area to take photos instead of along the busy highway.
-Easily located by any person needing information.
Please send this along to Whom it May Concern.

​Terrie Bullock