The New Brunswick government listened to the requests of CPAWS NB and others and has completed a comprehensive review of the provincial Parks Act. Previous to this, the Act had not been reviewed since its enactment in 1961. The review consisted of 2 roundtable discussions with stakeholders (CPAWS NB attended one held in Mactaquac), the ability to submit briefs (CPAWS NB submitted a brief and it is available here), and a public online survey, which reached 2,500 New Brunswickers. 1 All of the results of the public engagement strategy for the Parks Act Review were summarized in a Public Response Paper (available here: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/thc-tpc/pdf/Tourism-Tourisme/ParksActReviewPublicResponsePaper.pdf). 2
The government reviewed the responses and made several amendments to the Act in the spring session of the legislature in 2014. These amendments much improved the existing legislation. Notable changes to the Act include: an updated mandate, which states that provincial parks are dedicated to “permanently protect ecosystems, biodiversity and the elements of natural and cultural heritage…” among other commitments. The amendments also included the requirement for each provincial park to develop a resource management plan and additionally the creation of an advisory committee, which will include members of First Nations. 3
Hopefully, with the new amendments made to the Parks Act, New Brunswick’s provincial parks can be managed in accordance with the values of New Brunswickers. Upholding these values of protecting ecological integrity and increasing appreciation for natural and culture heritage will safeguard parks for the enjoyment of generations to come.