Economic Impact of Canadian Parks and Protected Areas (2009)


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.



Nature Playbook


The Nature Playbook

The Nature Playbook is a strategy to connect young people with Nature in Canada. It is meant to guide and inspire actions that all Canadians can take to connect a new generation with Nature.

Pick up the Playbook. Plan your Plays. Make a difference.

Sortons jouer dans la nature

La stratégie Sortons jouer dans la nature vise à rapprocher les jeunes Canadiens de la nature. Elle a pour but de guider les Canadiens et de les inspirer à agir pour mettre la nouvelle génération en contact avec la nature.

Obtenez le livre de jeu. Planifiez vos jeux. Contribuez à des changements positifs.

Download Infographic
Download Planning Poster
Download Powerpoint
Téléchargez résumé de deux pages
Téléchargez Affiche «Planifiez votre jeu»
Téléchargez Présentation PowerPoint

Aboriginal Peoples and Canada’s Parks and Protected Areas (2007)


“Best Practices” in Collaborating with Aboriginal Communities

Canada’s park agencies have a long and diverse history of working with Aboriginal communities. One of the Council’s strategic directions  is to “support agencies’ efforts to address Aboriginal interest in parks and protected areas.”

In 2000, the CPC prepared and presented to Parks Ministers a discussion paper on Aboriginal tourism in parks. This was followed-up in 2001 with Parks Canada convening a Round Table on Aboriginal Tourism. 

At their fall 2006 meeting, Parks Ministers directed the Council to enhance its work on this strategic direction. In response, the Council has developed a series of “best practices” case studies profiling leading collaborative work between park agencies and aboriginal communities. This approach will help to identify recent innovations and successes, common challenges, and opportunities for shared learning.

Case study text reviewed by profiled communities to ensure their concurrence. Designed by aboriginal-owned communications company. Preface authored by Patterk Netser, Nunavut’s Minister responsible for Parks. 

Les « bonnes pratiques » de collaboration avec les collectivités autochtones

Les organismes responsables des parcs au Canada ont une longue expérience de la collaboration avec les collectivités autochtones sous diverses formes. Le CCP a pour orientation stratégique, entre autres, d’appuyer les efforts déployés par les organismes pour tenir compte des intérêts des Autochtones dans les parcs et les aires protégées. 

En 2000, le CCP a préparé un document de travail sur le tourisme autochtone dans les parcs, document qu’il a présenté aux ministres responsables des parcs. Parcs Canada a ensuite organisé une table ronde sur le tourisme autochtone en 2001. 

Lors de leur rencontre de l’automne 2006, les ministres responsables des parcs ont demandé au Conseil d’axer ses efforts dans cette direction. En réponse, le Conseil a rassemblé une série d’études de cas mettant en évidence les « bonnes pratiques » de collaboration entre les collectivités autochtones et les organismes responsables des parcs.

Cette approche permettra de cerner de façon stratégique les innovations et les réussites récentes ainsi que les occasions d’apprentissage et les défis communs.

On a demandé aux collectivités concernées de revoir le texte des études de cas, au besoin, afin d’obtenir leur accord. Le document a été conçu par une entreprise de communication autochtone. La préface a été rédigée par Patterk Netser, ministre responsable des parcs du Nunavut. 

The Importance of Being Permanent


The Importance of Being Permanent: Permanent Protected Areas as Natural Solutions for Climate Change

Current protected areas are projected to have very different species, ecosystems, and ecological functions under various climate change scenarios. Despite the potential for significant ecological transformation over time, permanent protected areas remain one of the most effective ways to conserve biodiversity in a changing climate. They are valuable natural assets that contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation while providing a range of additional environmental, social, and economic benefits. They protect a great deal of geophysical and biological diversity, and they are spaces for species and ecosystems to adapt in place. Permanence sustains the ability to continue to practice Indigenous ways of life, maintaining cultural resilience into the future. Maintaining current protected areas and creating new permanent protected areas remains critical to our adaptability as anthropogenic climate change progresses.

 Making the business case for permanent protected areas is an important step in the planning process. Complementary strategies have been proposed to meet the climate change challenge. Examples include focusing on potential climate refugia for new protected areas, adjusting protected area boundaries, and establishing temporal conservation measures to meet short-term life stage needs of species. These alternative strategies, however, cannot replace permanent protected areas. The importance of maintaining permanent protected areas must also be emphasized.

The Importance of Being Permanent Quick Facts Table contains summary information, quotations, and additional resources that underline the importance of permanence for various social and ecological priorities (e.g. biodiversity, research, ecosystem services, cultural practices, etc.) in the face of climate change. The table covers eight protected area topics and three key messages for use by those who wish to communicate the value of permanent protected areas as part of a natural solution to climate change adaptation. It was developed by members of the Canadian Parks Council Climate Change Working Group, a collaborative group consisting of members from Canada’s national, provincial, and territorial parks and protected areas agencies.

In a changing climate, permanent protected areas are more important than ever.

That’s because permanent protected areas conserve…

·         … geophysical diversity, protecting enduring landforms and abiotic components

·         … ecological integrity, protecting essential ecosystem functions and processes

·         … biological diversity, protecting representative ecosystems and species

·         … ecological resilience, protecting nature’s ability to withstand disturbance

·         … climate refugia, protecting spaces where changes will be more gradual

·         … living laboratories, protecting benchmarks for research

·         .. ecosystem services and natural infrastructure, protecting essential services for communities

·         … places that engage and inspire people, protecting human health, wellbeing, and connection to nature

Download Excel File

Putting Adaptation Solutions in the Hands of Northern Parks and Protected Areas Practitioners (Workshop Proceedings)

Putting Adaptation Solutions in the Hands of Northern Parks and Protected Area Practitioners workshop was hosted in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories on June 6th and 7th, 2018. It focused on building relationships and initiating an exchange of knowledge between parks and protected area practitioners, Indigenous knowledge holders, and climate change researchers in a northern Canadian context.


Promoting Parks and Protected Areas as Natural Solutions to Climate Change

Promoting Parks and Protected Areas as Natural Solutions to Climate Change report provides a foundational communications guide for parks and protected area practitioners, and illustrates how parks and protected areas are natural solutions for climate change through nine key messages. The report includes topics such as potential communication barriers, best practices for climate change communication, and prospective audiences, as well as a selection of sample taglines and posters.


Review of Sign Guidelines and Manuals within the Canadian Parks Council

The document was completed with support from park staff in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Parks Canada. Other agencies may have additional guidelines but were unable to participate in the scan.

Download Report (English)

The document includes information on the presence or absence of sign guidance, details of guidelines, and contact information. It would be useful for park infrastructure and maintenance, planning, visitor experience, way finding, and management.

From the introduction:

In the interest of creating formal guidance on park signage, Ontario Parks put forward a request for information to Canadian Parks Council members in the summer of 2018. Park agencies were asked whether they had a manual or similar guidance for symbols and sign specifications. Several responses were received and are outlined in the following document.

Responses vary from agency to agency based on their environment, policy and legislation. Please be advised that not all details are provided in this document. One should contact the respective agency to obtain further information.
Ontario Parks would like to thank the park agencies that provided responses to our inquiry. We hope that this information will prove valuable.

Ontario Parks Jurisdictional Scan on Sign Guidelines


Youth as Indicator Species

The social fabric of Canada is changing: urban migration, a rapidly aging population, more people with disabilities, increased immigration and ethnic diversity, and a growing awareness of aboriginal issues and values are just some of the emerging threads in our cultural cloth. This new weave is an exciting opportunity to enrich the tapestry of federal, territorial, and provincial parks with bold and diverse new perspectives and approaches to conservation and stewardship, recreation and connection, diversity and inclusion. 

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In imagining an inclusive parks system 30 years from now, members of the Canadian Parks Council Youth Engagement Working Group (YEWG) pictured those people engaged in parks reflecting the diversity of Canadian society. We envisioned a culture of engagement able to adapt and evolve to the changing ways that people interact with the natural world. We predicted an increased role for parks in establishing lifelong relationships with the natural world and a social value shift towards environmental literacy. This bright future for parks begins with youth today. 

There is much to gain and nothing to lose by equipping Canadian youth to discover (or re-discover) our parks. Dissociation from the outdoors or just simple barriers prohibit many youth from learning about natural or cultural values, but their participation will help create new understandings and reveal new stories. Older employees are aging and retiring, but today’s youth will be called to continue the legacy and manage our treasured natural areas with passion and integrity. Canadians are seeking more balanced, healthy, and active lifestyles, and youth are leading many outdoor recreation and adventure experiences that foster physical and mental health. Finally, many Canadians are overwhelmed with environmental threats, but youth are ready to become active stewards in protecting nature and the landscapes that are so important for sustaining life. 

More fundamentally, youth are an indicator species. They reflect the state of the relationship between park agencies and the communities that make up Canadian society. Canadian youth move quickly through stages and transitions as they become more independent, and they cross all backgrounds, cultures, abilities, economics, belief systems, ethnicities, and interests. 

The work of the Canadian Parks Council working group, the research team, and the youth advisory panel is about empowering and involving youth as collaborators, and about listening to their voices as we create a more relevant and sustainable park system across Canada. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this report, especially the youth who shared their voices 


Report of the Canadian Parks Council Climate Change Working Group

This report highlights the roles of parks and protected areas in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and some of the actions taken to date by provincial, territorial and federal parks and protected areas agencies as they respond to the challenge of rapid climate change.

Download Report (English)

The report builds on the work of the Canadian Council on EcologicalAreas and others who have identified the need for greater collaboration across jurisdictions on this issue. Recognizing this need, the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) Climate Change Working Group is coordinating these efforts to build understanding and capacity among jurisdictions to respond to climate change and identify opportunities to work together.

Canada’s parks and protected areas hold great promise as part of a natural solution to climate change. At the same time, there is much more to do to expand our protected areas networks, connect natural spaces, restore ecosystems and habitats, bring back native species, and inspire and engage Canadians. By reaching across boundaries, sharing best practices and learning from one another, parks and protected areas agencies can strengthen their contributions to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The goal of the members of the CPC Climate Change Working Group is to encourage the creation of ecologically resilient networks of parks and protected areas, connected through sustainably managed landscapes and seascapes, as a key part of the solution to Canada’s climate change challenges.