The Rocky History of Canada’s Environmental Stance

Posted by Banff National Park Editor, Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 at 7:37 am

History of Canada’s Environmental Stance

In recent times, Canada has really taken the issue of the environment seriously but history tells a bumpier story.

The Winter Olympics

Canada launched several bids to host the Winter Olympics in Banff, with the first bid for the 1964 Winter Olympics which were eventually awarded to Innsbruck, Austria. Canada narrowly lost a second bid, for the 1968 Olympics, which this time were awarded to Grenoble, France. Once again, Banff launched a bid to host the 1972 Winter Olypics with plans to hold the games at Lake Louise. However, controversy surrounded the bid when all sorts of environmental lobby groups provided strong opposition to the bid, which was sponsored by none other than Imperial Oil.


Bowing to pressure, Jean Chretien, then the Minister of Environment, the government department at the time responsible for Parks Canada, withdrew support for the bid.

Time for Change

With the bitter taste of another lost Olympic bid in the mouths of the public, subsequent acts and policies placed greater emphasis on conservation. With public sentiment tending towards environmentalism, Parks Canada issued major new policy in 1979, which emphasized conservation. The National Parks Act was amended in 1988, which made preserving ecological integrity the first priority in all park management decisions. The act also required each park to produce a management plan, with greater public participation. Thanks to this forward thinking, Banff National Park remains in excellent condition, especially considering almost 4 million people visit every year.

In 1984, Banff was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the other national and provincial parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, for the mountain landscapes containing mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and limestone caves as well as fossils found here.

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