Vol. 147, No. 26 — December 18, 2013
SI/2013-124 December 18, 2013
EXPANSION AND CONSERVATION OF CANADA’S NATIONAL PARKS ACT
Order Fixing December 1, 2013 as the Day on which Part 1 and Section 15 of the Act Come into Force
P.C. 2013-1287 November 28, 2013
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to sections 12 and 16 of the Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks Act, chapter 28 of the Statutes of Canada, 2013, fixes December 1, 2013 as the day on which Part 1 and section 15 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
This Order sets December 1, 2013, as the date for the coming into force of Part 1 and section 15 of the Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks Act (“the Act”), which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013.
The coming into force of Part 1 and section 15 of the Act will complete the establishment process of Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada and give effect to the new leasehold boundary for the Marmot Basin ski area, in Schedule 5 of the Canada National Parks Act.
Part 1 of the Act
In the June 2011 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada made a commitment to create new protected areas. In October 2011, an agreement was reached between the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia for the establishment of a new national park on Sable Island.
Sable Island is 42 kilometres long and nearly 1.3 kilometres across (at its widest point) and lies 290 kilometres southeast of Halifax, near the edge of the continental shelf; it falls within the Atlantic Coastal Plain natural region in Parks Canada’s national parks system. It has an area of 30 square kilometres and is characterized by long beaches and sand dunes, part of which constitute the most extensive dune networks in eastern Canada. Vegetation covers about one-third of the island, which also includes several fresh water ponds. These ponds are home to unique varieties of plant and animal life, and are a source of drinking water for the island population.
In accordance with the commitment made by the Government of Canada and the agreement made with the Province of Nova Scotia, Part 1 of the Act amends the Canada National Parks Act to create Sable Island National Park Reserve by adding its description to Schedule 2 of the Act.
Part 1 of the Act also amends the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit oil drilling activities, including exploratory drilling, within Sable Island National Park Reserve and within one nautical mile of its low water mark and to limit the surface access rights provided for under this legislation. In addition, it amends section 142 of the same Act regarding the mechanism for issuing authorizations for activities that can be carried out on Sable Island by submitting this mechanism to a process of consultation and coordination between the Parks Canada Agency and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
The October 2011 agreement sets out as a prerequisite for the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve the introduction of parallel legislative amendments in the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia regarding offshore petroleum resources. Under the terms of the agreement, these legislative amendments must come into force on the same date as the federal amendments.
Part I also makes consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 by removing any reference to Sable Island in order to facilitate the transfer of the administration of the island from the Canadian Coast Guard to Parks Canada.
This Order sets December 1, 2013, as the date when Part 1 of the Act comes into force; this date was chosen in coordination with the Province of Nova Scotia, as provided under the October 2011 agreement.
Part 2 of the Act
Unrelated to the creation of Sable Island National Park Reserve, section 15 of the Act introduces amendments to Schedule 5 of the Canada National Parks Act regarding the leasehold boundary of the Marmot Basin ski area located within Jasper National Park of Canada.
The operation of ski areas within national parks is subject to the Canada National Parks Act and its regulations, as well as the conditions of leases and occupancy permits. The boundaries of any ski area located within a national park must be described in Schedule 5 of the Canada National Parks Act.
Ski areas are also governed by Ski Area Management Guidelines, which set out common approaches for maintaining ecological integrity and enabling economically viable ski facilities in national parks. These general guidelines are supplemented by site-specific guidelines which control the management and use of each area. Ski area operators work with Parks Canada to develop the guidelines for their sites to define the scope, nature and location of proposed projects and to specify the conditions to be met.
The Marmot Basin ski area needs to offer additional facilities and services in order to remain competitive. Thus, the operator proposed to amend the leasehold boundary by subtracting 118 hectares of ecologically sensitive land in the Whistlers Creek valley, which would be returned to the Park.
In return for the 118 hectares in the Whistlers Creek valley, the ski area would receive 60 hectares of comparatively less ecologically sensitive land on which to develop new ski trails and beginner slopes.
This land swap will result in a substantial environmental gain for Jasper National Park of Canada. The 118 hectares of land removed from the leasehold are undeveloped and inhabited by many wildlife species, including woodland caribou and grizzly bears, which are listed as threatened or of special concern under the Species at Risk Act.
Once removed from the leasehold boundary, these lands will be added to the existing declared wilderness area in Jasper National Park of Canada through a regulatory process under way to amend the boundaries defined in the National Parks Wilderness Area Declaration Regulations.
The coming into force of Part 1 of the Act will have an impact on the status of Sable Island and the activities that can be carried out there. The island will be subject to the Canada National Parks Act, and as a national park reserve, will benefit from a high level of protection to preserve its exceptional character and its natural and cultural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have asserted Aboriginal rights and title to the Province. These claims are being negotiated under the “Made-in-Nova Scotia” process. When there are outstanding claims by Aboriginal people regarding Aboriginal rights and title and these claims have been accepted by Canada for negotiation, an area is designated as a national park reserve. This is the case for Sable Island. Once the claim has been settled, the land may be converted from a national park reserve to a national park. A national park reserve is operated in the same way as a national park, subject to any traditional harvesting of renewable resources by Aboriginal people.
The coming into force of section 15 of the Act will also have an impact on the management of Jasper National Park of Canada. It will give effect to legislative amendments that are in line with the management objectives of the Parks Canada Agency. These objectives aim to protect ecosystems while providing greater certainty for land use and establishing clear parameters for ski operators to plan their activities in a manner that ensures the viability and profitability of their business.
Following the announcement of the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia in May 2010 to designate Sable Island a national park of Canada, a public engagement process was initiated by the Parks Canada Agency to gather feedback on the project. Consultations were held from June to September 2010 that included open houses, a stakeholder round table workshop, a Web site about Sable Island, a toll-free line and written submissions.
The Parks Canada Agency received approximately 2 800 responses expressing support and sharing ideas, concerns and visions regarding the future of Sable Island as a national park reserve.
Consultations with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia were also initiated and will continue, as appropriate, with respect to the planning and management of the national park reserve. The discussions with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia took place in the context of meetings with the Kwilmu’kw Maw’Klusuaqn Negotiation Office (established by the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia to represent them in all official negotiations or consultations with the Province of Nova Scotia and Canada). The purpose of these meetings was to review the principles and procedures for establishing the national park reserve and subsequent steps. In November 2010, the Parks Canada Agency received a letter from the Mi’kmaq indicating their agreement for bringing Sable Island under the Canada National Parks Act and emphasizing their desire to take an active part in the development of a management plan for Sable Island.
A number of meetings took place with the Mi’kmaq throughout 2012, with a particular focus on the conclusion of a cooperative agreement for the gathering of information on Sable Island National Park Reserve.
The Parks Canada Agency also consulted and communicated with stakeholders through several meetings in 2012. The purpose of these meetings was to inform stakeholders about the Parks Canada Agency becoming the lead organization responsible for coordinating activities for Sable Island as a national park reserve, to communicate operational information about the island and provide updates about the steps in the establishment process.
The Mi’kmaq, stakeholders and the public expressed strong support for the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve.
The date of the coming into force of Part 1 of the Act was determined in consultation and coordination with the Province of Nova Scotia.
The changes introduced by section 15 of the Act were the subject of consultations in connection with the development of the Marmot Basin Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use and the management plan for Jasper National Park of Canada. The amendments reflect the direction set in both documents.
The opinions expressed during these consultations and throughout the legislative steps that led to the passing of the Act were divided. Certain individuals and environmental organizations believe that the proposed changes do not represent a substantial environmental gain. Others supported the changes, but proposed that more efforts be made to accommodate commercial operations in national parks.
Policy, Legislative and Cabinet Affairs Branch
Parks Canada Agency