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Economic Impact of Canadian Parks and Protected Areas (2009)

Economic Impact of Canadian Parks and Protected Areas (2009)

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A Technical Report prepared by The Outspan Group Inc.

Amherst Island, Stella, Ontario for the Canadian Parks Council (April, 2011)

Foreword and acknowledgements

Canadians benefit in so many ways from our national, provincial and territorial parks. For many years, park agencies have been working together to define, measure and report on these benefits.

As a society and individually we benefit from parks. They provide opportunities for families to be together, to learn about nature and to enjoy healthful outdoor recreation. They are places for us to relax and rejuvenate, contributing to our health and well-being. Parks contribute to our sense of identity and place. We value the natural and cultural heritage that they protect and present. Though most of us may only ever visit a few of these places, they fill us with wonder and inspire us and we consider them an important legacy to pass on to future generations.

Parks provide a broad range of ecological services. They produce clean water and air, protect critical habitat for species-at-risk and maintain healthy, diverse and resilient ecosystems upon which our own health depends. Forest areas in parks help stabilize the earth’s climate by reabsorbing carbon and other pollutants from the atmosphere and producing oxygen.

Parks also generate economic activity, supporting tourism, providing sustainable jobs, generating tax revenue to governments and diversifying the economy, particularly in rural and remote areas of Canada. Parks are the focus of much of Canada’s regional, national and international tourism activity. This report examines the economic impact of Canada’s national, provincial and territorial parks and demonstrates that spending by park organizations and by visitors to parks has a substantial and recurring impact on the economy.

Calculating the impact of each park agency and Parks Canada within and outside each province and territory and then rolling all of the data into a national report is a monumental task. This is the second such report prepared by the Canadian Parks Council and the first to include data from every province and territory.

The Economic Impact Model for Parks (EIMP) used to undertake this analysis is a substantial improvement over previous versions. It now reports on direct, indirect and induced impacts and calculates tax impacts by level of government. It has been updated with the latest coefficients from Statistics Canada’s Provincial Input/Output models and is now a web-based and user- friendly application, readily accessible to anyone wishing to use it.

This report shows that:

  • The $47 million in operating and capital expenditures (excludes amortization) by BC Parks and PFOs led to $394 million in expenditures by visitors. In other words, every one dollar invested in the protected areas system generates $8.42 in visitor spending on food, entertainment, transportation and other goods and services.
  • Provincial park-related spending generated over $28 million in tax revenues (sales and production taxes only, does not include income tax effects), returning 60 per cent of BC Parks’ capital and operating expenditures.
  • The combined economic impact of this spending is a $392 million boost to GDP and over 5,200 full-time jobs.


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