Closing Moraine Lake to public vehicles does not sit well with Alberta’s minister

A provincial cabinet minister has called on the federal government over Parks Canada’s decision to introduce restrictions at a popular hiking site in Banff National Park.

Todd Loewen, Alberta’s minister of forestry, parks and tourism, issued a statement about his disappointment with last week’s decision to block all public parking lots at Moraine Lake.

Parks Canada said that as of now, the only way for visitors to reach the area will be via shuttle buses, Roam Transit or commercial carriers.

in his statementLoewen said the decision will mean fewer people will visit and have less time to enjoy the natural area.

“Sunrise or sunset walks or night photography are nearly impossible to achieve with this plan, unless people can afford commercial transportation or travel unsafely on foot or by bike in the dark,” he wrote.

In its announcement last week, Parks Canada said it made the decision due to overcrowding in the parking lot and undue stress on staff members.

“It’s probably the most popular destination in Banff National Park,” Parks Canada’s Jed Cochrane said during an interview with CTV News last week.

“It’s very difficult to get a private vehicle to Moraine Lake. Last summer, that parking lot was full almost 24 hours a day.”

Cochrane says that public safety was also an issue.

“Once the parking lot gets too full, it becomes a security issue for visitors,” he said.

“We heard loud and clear from visitors last summer that they were very frustrated in terms of being able to access Moraine Lake.”

Last week’s changes also include some limitations on when visitors can arrive at Moraine Lake, because Parks Canada’s shuttle service won’t run between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Officials say this is to prevent disturbance to wildlife. .

Loewen says she values ​​the benefit of the outdoors and mountain parks and wants to make sure everyone can enjoy them.

“Unlike Parks Canada, our government is committed to ensuring greater access to recreation and tourism opportunities. I call on Minister Steven Guillbeault and Minister Randy Boissonnault to reconsider and seek other options to resolve their challenges.”

He also asks Alberta to be included in those conversations.

The closure officially goes into effect when Moraine Lake Road opens for the summer season on June 1.

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