Sample Letters
The following letters are posted with permission from the authors.
   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 am in a favour of a new VRC in a different site.

These are only a few of the issues surrounding the proposed site:
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.    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.

Parks Canada’s alternative site for the new VRC would be located on the hill close to the Park operations buildings across from middle Waterton Lake, providing easy access and visibility.
I believe no final decisions for any site should be made without public input and thorough review.  To learn more you can visit the website:
You are welcome to copy and paste the above letter and submit it as your own
Dear Sir and/or Madam,

I would like to relate to you some very disturbing developments that are taking place in Waterton Lake National Park.

We have been informed that we are to have the new Visitor's Centre located within the small townsite in one of our very few Green Spaces/play parks.  It is to take the whole Green space, by including the building and parking area.  Of course parking will include areas for trailers, trucks, cars and motorcycles etc.  The Diesel Buses will be idling in the parking lot to keep the passengers cool, as now is the case around town.  This creates stink and noise.  There will be heavy traffic flow all the time.

There is a Green space located right next to the Children’s Playground, and is always used by the children and adults for soccer games, kite flying, touch football, tag, picnics and so on.  Since it is right next to the Playground, siblings often play in both areas with Mom and Dad between to supervise.

By placing this Visitor’s Centre in the Green Space, it allows visitors/strangers to be lingering around the Playground with impunity.

Many, many, of our community members have voiced opposition to this location.  Parks Canada held an open house but with no question and answer period and some Community members held a “working meeting” with the Superintendent and a few Parks staff.  The community strongly voiced its opposition against this location and the Superintendent said that no decision had been made as to location.  The next thing we know, the new site has been chosen and discussion is closed.  The Superintendent Ifan Thomas is acting without Community support and many Park employees will privately voice their opposition to this location.  This decision has been made by the Superintendent, in conjunction with some architects, but you can be sure the influence of the Superintendent has been brought to bear on the architects to make this choice.  The consultation process was totally false and flawed.

The Waterton Community Plan 2000 states that “recreational land will be preserved and enhanced.”  The plan also states “recreational land will be protected from encroachment of other land uses.”  The Waterton Community Plan 2000 also states that Lot 10, Block 4 and Lots 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14, on Block 39 are designated as Environmental Reserve.  This is exactly where the Visitor Centre will be located.  The Superintendent says he can override the plan if he wants to!  What use is a plan if it can be changed at the will of the Parks Canada staff?

There needs to be an INDEPENDENT study of this decision.  The Superintendent will be gone in a few years and we will be left with this horrible, congested area for decades and our Green Space/Play area will be gone.  What a travesty of justice.

Please consider our concerns, because we all love Waterton and do not want to see it spoiled by this extremely short sighted and unpopular decision.

Yours truly,
Dear Catherine McKenna Minister of Environment
Subject: Announced New Visitor Centre in Waterton Park

Recently Waterton Park officials announced the location of the new visitors centre for the park. I am in full agreement that there needs to be a new visitor centre. The current one is old, small, and ineffective with very limited parking. A new visitor centre will be a great resource for all visitors.

My concern is with the location that has been announced for the centre. The field which has been identified is in an already highly congested area of town next to the playground. The location within the townsite which already experiences extreme traffic flow is inappropriate for increased traffic. These concerns, as well as others, are well expressed on the website

The consultation process on this decision was flawed. I have attended every public forum over the last several years, including one in October 2015 about new changes in the park, and the visitors centre was not mentioned.

An alternate location for the visitors centre near the compound is much more appropriate for the reasons mentioned in the website.  Building the visitor centre in the proposed location would be a costly and logistical mistake. Thank you for your assistance.
Ifan Thomas
Waterton Lakes National Park
P.O. Box 200 Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0

Dear Superintendent:

I am writing to express my opposition to the designation of the Windflower Avenue site as the location of the new Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) in Waterton Lakes National Park. 

I have numerous concerns with not only the proposed location, but also how the decision was made. 

First of all, the lack of public consultation on such an important decision is perhaps the most concerning. The open house held in October 2015 did not include any consultation on the new Visitor Centre. Concerned public who had heard rumours of a new Visitor Centre were told at that point that plans for the new Visitor Centre were “not on the radar” of Park Management yet. We waited for an announcement of an open house about the new Visitor Centre where we could give constructive feedback and have our voices heard. We were shocked when the news release from the Park in March 2016 confirmed Park Management had already chosen a location. There was no genuine consultation or input from perhaps the most important stakeholders: the general PUBLIC that the Visitor Reception Centre is supposed to be for, not to mention the many leaseholders who will be affected by this decision.

The site that has been chosen next to the heavily used playground, spray park, and tennis courts, poses a significant safety hazard for the children that use these areas. The playground is accessed by children from all directions, and now instead of a green space, children coming from the campground as well as many of the cabins will be crossing through a parking lot and crossing roads that are even more congested with traffic. 

The Parks Canada news release states that: “As 100% of the visitors to Waterton come to the townsite, there will be no additional traffic or parking issues.” While in theory that sounds true, it’s not quite that simple. Yes, 100% of visitors may eventually come into town during their visit, but they currently aren’t all coming into the same busy area at the centre of town at the start of their visit to get maps, updated trail conditions, etc. Traffic will be more congested in this already congested area of town as people try to access the Visitor Centre just to get basic information when they first arrive. Many times visitors stop at the VRC on the entrance road to get information about camping or the various scenic attractions or hikes, and then turn around and drive to Crandell campground, or take a drive on one of the scenic parkways, without making a stop in town beforehand. A visitor centre accessible from the entrance road that is passed by every single vehicle entering the park would be far more visible and easier to access for first time visitors and returning visitors alike. To those already familiar with the townsite, the centre of town seems like an obvious, easy-to-find location, but new visitors (which account for 45% of visitors to the park) need a map and directions BEFORE they get to the townsite, even with plenty of signage in town.  Long lines at the gate and many people using their national park passes to use the gate-arm lane mean the gate is not a viable option for giving directions to each vehicle. A visitor reception centre in the space by the compound by the entrance road would be impossible to miss and provide space for ample parking for RV’s, people towing boats, tour busses, etc.

The news release also says that the location along Windflower Avenue offers magnificent views in all directions. I believe this is actually the worst possible location for a view.
Upper Waterton Lake is not visible from the proposed site.  The view from this location does not provide “unparalleled beauty” as suggested, as it is surrounded on all sides by man-made structures. In contrast, the view from the other proposed location near the compound is absolutely breathtaking.

The play field currently located at the proposed site has been used by children, young adults, park employees, families, tourists and wildlife for generations.
This is the location used for soccer, frisbee, baseball, large group games and so forth.  There are a limited number of green spaces in the townsite suitable for use by large groups.  Occupying this site with the Visitor Reception Centre, Administrative offices, and associated parking lot will destroy this well-loved play field. 

The Waterton Community Plan specifies the proposed area is zoned as Environmental Reserve and Recreational Reserve. The introduction to the Community Plan is very clear that there is to be no net negative environmental impact from development. Changing a green space designated as Environmental Reserve into a very large building, which includes administration and office space, as well as a paved parking lot, produces a negative environmental impact in a National Park.  

Please consider all these factors and revisit the proposal for the site of the new Visitor Centre. The general public and leaseholders have a right to have their voices heard - the Guiding Principles of Parks Canada say so. This has not been the case in this situation.

I am not opposed to improving the infrastructure in Waterton Lakes National Park. I would be the first to say that a new Visitor Centre is extremely important and would greatly enhance the visitor experience,  but I believe this important decision requires more time for public consultation and review before it is finalized.

Thank you for your time.