Parks Canada Update

Jasper Park Superintendent Greg Fenton has recently committed to finalizing the guidelines for hang gliding and paragliding in Jasper National Park on a one-year trial project beginning in late spring 2015.

Flying in National Parks is still off limits until HPAC gets the go ahead and publicizes the guidelines in a few months time, but we are closer.

As a recap of where we have been on this issue: Beginning in 2007, the BCHPA and HPAC initiated a formal request to Parks Canada for their consideration of removing the prohibition against non-motorized hang gliders and paragliders in National Parks. A National Assessment convened by Parks Canada was held in 2008 in Vancouver and by early 2012, the federal legislation was changed to remove the prohibition, a huge achievement for our sport.

However, a Local Assessment would need to be done by each individual park to determine that the sport would be allowed in that park, at the discretion of the local Park Superintendent.

A small committee of HPAC has been working with Banff, Jasper and the Mountain National Parks continuously for the last three years to complete a Local Assessment. Since early in 2013, with the finalization of the user guidelines having been approved by the Parks, it was imminent that we would be allowed to start flying in Jasper Park in the 2013 season, with some conditions and as a one-year pilot project. However, more consultation was conducted with other park stakeholders and the delay caused the 2013 season to be lost. Our full expectation was for early 2014 but that also again was delayed, due to other priorities by Park Administration.

Considering HPAC’s complete and repeated submission of any and all documents required, and a very productive relationship with Staff in the various Mountain parks, it was with some frustration that your committee approached the Superintendent of Jasper Park, Mr. Greg Fenton, to obtain a commitment as to when the trial project could begin so that we could inform out members. We now have a commitment that the guidelines for flying in Jasper Park would be formally approved this winter by the Park and that we can expect to be able to advise members as to these guidelines by no later than spring 2015.

It has been a long haul with this project, but your committee is confident that Jasper Park will be available to our beautiful sport in early 2015. Conditions will be publicized well in advance, as this is a trial. And this will serve as a precedent for several other National Parks in Canada that have been identified as ideal for our sport.

And until then, thank you for observing the no-fly rules in National Parks.

Will Gadd
Bruce Busby
Alan Polster
Margit Nance