Petition for clarification on the conversion of Western Brook Pond Trail to a gravel access road in Gros Morne National Park

Petition: 424

Issue(s): Biological diversity, Compliance and enforcement, Environmental assessment, Governance, Other

Petitioner(s): A Canadian organization

Petitioner Location(s): Ottawa, Ontario and St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Date Received: 18 April 2019

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition asks questions about the decision making associated with changes to the Western Brook Pond Trail in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. The petition argues that the conversion of the trail from a wood boardwalk to a gravel access road will have a significant ecological impact and will affect the area’s natural beauty. The petition suggests that the changes may compromise Canada’s commitment to preserve the outstanding universal value of Gros Morne National Park as a World Heritage Site.

The petition outlines a number of concerns that members of the public and advocacy groups have raised about the changes to the trail. The petition suggests that Parks Canada decision makers prioritized increased revenues and minimized environmental considerations, because a Detailed Impact Assessment (which the petition says is required for a World Heritage Site) had not been conducted to determine how the changes could affect the local ecosystem. The petition implies that Canada may not have fulfilled its obligation under the World Heritage Convention to notify the World Heritage Committee of the proposed changes to the Western Brook Pond Trail. The petition asserts that instead of conducting a Basic Impact Assessment for the project, Parks Canada should have asked the International Union for Conservation of Nature to conduct an environmental assessment.

The petition asks Parks Canada to provide information about the studies and research used to inform the redesign of the trail and seeks to know why a Detailed Impact Assessment was not conducted. The petition also asks for information on environmental assessments that were conducted and on the considerations given to Gros Morne National Park’s status as a World Heritage Site and whether the World Heritage Centre was notified. The petition seeks information on any accessibility and safety consultations and considerations that informed Parks Canada’s decision to convert the Western Brook Pond Trail. Finally, the petition raises concerns about what it perceives to be the priority given to a business case over environmental concerns in the decision-making process.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Parks Canada