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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Update 2017/4/21
Holiday water report 2017- Parks Canada 150



By Cori Marshall

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and to mark the occasion the government of Canada has waived admission fees to all the national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. Reserving a "Discovery Pass" gives you access to all Parks' sites in 2017.

Joel Reardon, Media Relations with Parks Canada, said "the government is inviting all Canadians to get outside, experience nature and learn more about our history."

In the past, the average Discovery Pass fee was $136.40, and according to Reardon the pass covered entry fees for an entire "year, and was good for a full carload of people. Reardon added that "the pass gives you unlimited opportunity to enjoy Parks Canada Places." Since the initiative was announced in December 2016, Reardon says that Parks Canada "[has] received 3.2 million orders."

With the price figures we were given, the amount of orders received for the Canada 150 Discovery Passes represents $436.48 million that is not going to Parks Canada. Admission and on-site fees go toward "conservation activities, visitor services and upkeep of our facilities," Reardon said.

This is a large amount of money for the government to absorb. Reardon added that in Budget 2016 "the federal government put aside $83.3 million to allow for this initiative to take place."

The federal dollars earmarked for the undertaking only accounts for 19% of the financial value of the orders received to date.

Reardon said that the free admission, is just that, "free admission slash day access to Parks Canada sites." All other on-site fees remain in place. The anticipated rise in visits to sites across the country this year "will lead to additional revenue from the sale of the goods and services."

Visitors who have received their free 2017 pass are still on the hook for "fees for recreational services, camping, firewood, fishing licenses, back country trips, and overnight stays." There is a long list of activities from which Parks Canada can fund their operations.

For example, if you were visiting Jasper National Park one night of camping ranges between $9.80 and $38.20 depending on the area of the park and the amenities that are provided. In comparison one night of camping at Forillon National Park the same activity ranges between $25.50 and $29.40. Fees not only vary within a given site they can vary from site to site.

The increased number of visitors to Parks Canada sites this year will undoubtedly put additional stress on the water supply systems. Parks Canada is one of the departments and agencies that is responsible for the provision of "drinking water in areas under federal jurisdiction." Health Canada Guidance sets out regulations for the supply of drinking water that is managed by federal departments.

The regulations state that the treatment systems "should be designed based on the site-specific raw water quality and quantity and should take into account seasonal variations." The means with which Parks Canada sites treat the water will vary from place to place and will vary based on region. Health Canada does suggest that for any new treatment plant or upgrades to existing ones, the design include an automated, continuous monitoring system" which would allow oversight from a central location.

Health Canada also encourages "routine maintenance [that] should include flushing water lines within a building." The federal department also suggests that the action be performed "every six to eight weeks in all inactive areas of the plumbing system." The frequency of flushing is to avoid the buildup of stagnant water in the system.

If there are adverse water issues, the system operator's responsibility is no different from that of the operator of a municipal or private system. Should the drinking water become contaminated, or if there are issues with the distribution system on a Parks Canada site, the government agency is responsible for providing "an alternative source of drinking water." The suggested alternative source is bottled water which may be distributed by a cooler or dispensers, it was added that "precautions should be taken to ensure that it does not become contaminated at the dispenser."

The federal government and Parks Canada are offering the gift of nature and a collective history. If the 3.2 million orders for the 2017 Discovery Pass are an indication Canadians will be flocking to the 46 national parks, 171 historic sites, and 4 marine conservation areas. While you are out celebrating Canada 150 rest assured that Parks Canada has the same obligations as your municipality to provide safe clean drinking water.

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