Last year was a huge year for Canada’s parks.
In celebration of the country’s 150th birthday, national parks waived entrance fees for all of 2017. What followed was a record number of visitors taking in Canada’s natural wonder. Some parks even had to close temporarily due to overcrowding, or turn visitors away. This influx of park enthusiasts partly contributed to Canada setting a new tourism record in 2017.
“The whole world responded––over 8 million Parks Canada Discovery Passes were distributed in Canada and nearly 200 other countries,” reads a statement by Parks Canada.
And it appears that Parks Canada will continue this momentum in 2018. In announcing the federal budget on Tuesday, the Liberal government pledged to keep Canada’s national parks free for kids. The promise was first made two years ago and covers everyone under the age of 18.
“Some parks were so busy they had to turn people away,” said Finance Minister Morneau in a speech about extending the free entrance program. This, of course, is not necessarily a good thing for environmental protection. The solution? A five-year, $1.3 billion investment in efforts to protect biodiversity and species at risk. Around a third of that money will be combined with private funds to create a $1 billion Nature Fund to secure private land for conservation and support species protection effort.
Other initiatives include the expansion of national wildlife areas and bird sanctuaries, as well as Indigenous communities involved in planning.
Considered “one of the most significant investments in nature conservation in Canadian history,” the money will contribute to Canada’s goal of conserving at least 17 per cent of its lands and inland waters by 2020.
The hardest part, of course, will be choosing where to go. There are more than 40 national parks and natural park reserves from coast to coast, each of them a marvel of nature. We suggest reserving your stay ASAP.