Gros Morne National Park
Construction Project Proposals – In 2018, a 2100-square meter drydock, was proposed in the midst of the iconic Bonne Bay region. On June 29th, 2018, the Town of Glenburnie-Birchy Bay-Shoal Brook wrote the Minister stating that they made a motion to deny permission for 3T’s Limited proposal for drydock/ wharf construction on Glenburnie beach, indefinitely, recognizing the potential impacts of the project to UNESCO World Heritage Site status and to the ecological integrity of the area. A drydock in the proposed location could change tidal flow, increasing the risk of flooding in the community, and would damage sensitive estuarine and tidal flat habitats.
A construction project of the proposed scale threatens the ability of Gros Morne National Park to protect the natural and cultural heritage of one of Canada’s most treasured wilderness spaces. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne is globally valued for its outstanding universal value as an area with exceptional natural beauty and unique geological features. The proposed drydock project would irreparably alter the overall beauty and character of the region. Visitors to the region do not differentiate the enclave Gros Morne communities as separate from the National Park – in fact, the communities within the Gros Morne region serve to enhance visitor experiences to the area. Though an enclave town, Glenburnie’s aesthetics and ecological significance remain essential to the ecological and cultural well-being of the bordering National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Regional infrastructure changes with the potential to impact outstanding universal values require the utmost caution in their planning and management. As such, stakeholder input from local, national, and global bodies should be sought and regarded with the greatest esteem and attention. CPAWS continues to work with Parks Canada to improve their management of our national parks and continues to push Parks Canada to engage with and cooperate with Canadians and area residents on decisions which can create vulnerabilities in park management and integrity.
Oil Drilling and Fracking – In 2013 Gros Morne was threatened by a proposal to drill a series of oil exploration wells along the west coast of Newfoundland. The drilling program would have used hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking)—the high-pressure injection of water containing toxic chemicals to shatter underground shale beds—to extract oil. Industrializing the Gros Morne coastline would not only have threatened the remarkable ecosystems of this World Heritage Site, it would have threatened the vital regional and provincial tourism economy which relies on the pristine natural beauty of Gros Morne’s coast and mountains to attract visitors from across Canada and around the world.
On November 5th, 2013 the provincial government announced a moratorium on fracking to allow time for further study and public consultation. Then on December 5th 2013, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board announced it would not renew the license of the company proposing it. The license expired on January 14th, 2014. In June 2014, in response to concerns raised by CPAWS, local citizens and businesses, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee recommended that Canada create a permanent protective buffer zone around the Gros Morne National Park to prevent harm from future industrial activities around the park.
Trail Infrastructure – In 2017, Parks Canada began the first stages of a $3 million project to update facilities at Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The iconic boardwalk trail at Western Brook Pond was removed and replaced with a 4.8m wide hardened gravel road. The public was not consulted about these changes, and now, many voices are speaking out about the changes and demanding to be heard. Trail development has resulted in outcomes beyond simple rehabilitation of existing infrastructure: the development footprint of the trail has increased significantly, irreparably altering the character of the site and one of the park’s most sought-after experiences. The changes threaten the area’s exceptional natural beauty, a value for which the park is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These changes, without consultation, are not in keeping with Parks Canada’s commitment to all Canadians to protect the natural and cultural heritage of our special places and demonstrate little regard for public transparency and accountability. Further development work of the trail, planned to occur during winter 2019, must not be allowed to proceed.