Friday, April 1, 2016

Upcoming infrastructure projects in Waterton Lakes National Park (updated)

  • Potential impacts on visitor experience for spring and summer 2016
  • New visitor centre in the planning stages
Parks Canada - updated April 1, 2016

Parks Canada wishes to inform visitors and residents of the Waterton Park community of the following infrastructure projects in Waterton Lakes National Park taking place this spring and summer.

Potential Impacts on Visitor Experience for Spring and Summer 2016:

Waterton Lakes (Alberta), April 1, 2016 – Parks Canada wishes to inform visitors and residents of the Waterton Park community of the following infrastructure projects in Waterton Lakes National Park taking place this spring and summer.

Projects resulting in a closure or having a major impact to visitors include:

Cameron Lake Day Use Area: Closed April 30 – November 2016
The Cameron Lake Day Use Area will be closed to replace the existing facilities.

The Lakeshore Trail at Cameron Lake will not be accessible during construction. Parks Canada is pursuing a complimentary shuttle service to ensure continued access to all trails along the Akamina Parkway, including Carthew-Alderson and Summit Lake.

Akamina Parkway: Closed April 30 – November 2016
Due to the construction at Cameron Lake Day Use Area, the Akamina Parkway will be closed to all traffic – including pedestrians and cyclists. Parks Canada is pursuing a complimentary shuttle service for hikers to safely access trailheads for the duration of the work. Regular updates on work as it progresses will be communicated.

Red Rock Parkway: Closed until May 2016

Starting May 6 until June 17, 2016, the Red Rock Parkway will reopen for public use on weekends only. During this period, visitors can access the parkway from Fridays at 2 p.m. until Sundays at 4 p.m. For the May long weekend, the parkway will be open from Friday, May 20 at 2 p.m. to Monday, May 23 at 4 p.m. As from June 17 at 2 p.m., the parkway will be open seven days a week to visitors, following the completion of road work and the replacement of culverts.

The Red Rock Parkway may be closed for 2-3 weeks after the September long weekend to finalize any road work not completed in the spring.

Crandell Mountain Campground will open on May 20.

Projects resulting in a minor impact to visitors include:

Blakiston Falls Viewing Platforms
Subject to confirmation, the viewing platforms at Blakiston Falls will be closed for replacement until June 2016, and the Blakiston Falls trail will be temporarily closed for one week to repair a portion of the path. During that time, access to the Tamarack Trail will be available through the Snowshoe Trail. For the remainder of the spring and summer, the Blakiston Valley trail will remain open. Timing for this work is dependent on a number of factors, including weather. Confirmed dates will be communicated once available.

Chief Mountain Highway
Repairs along Chief Mountain Highway will continue from May 1 until July 31, 2016. Work will resume on the north end of the road and progress south. The highway will remain open for public use, however single lane alternating traffic with up to 20 minute delays may occur throughout the project duration. Please allow extra time for travel when using this highway and consult for the latest road construction updates.

Staff Housing
Construction on the 200-block of Clematis Avenue (between the United Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) will begin in April 2016 to replace Parks Canada staff accommodation.

Waterton Townsite Infrastructure Replacement

Evergreen Avenue: Water and sewer upgrades will continue along Evergreen Avenue (north of Cameron Falls). The street will be closed to the public. Access to Cameron Falls will be available through Fountain Avenue. Leaseholders will continue to have access to Evergreen Avenue during construction.

Waterton Avenue: The south end of Waterton Avenue (to Vimy Avenue) is closed for water and sewer upgrades until May 20. The G Loop of the Townsite Campground will also be temporarily closed to accommodate this work, and access to the Community Kitchen and picnic areas along the lakeshore, including Cameron Bay, will be unavailable. An alternative picnic area and shelter is available at Emerald Bay.
New Visitor Centre

In July 2015, the Government of Canada announced significant investments for Waterton Lakes National Park totalling $107.5 million. $7.6 million was identified for a new Visitor Reception Centre (VRC) for the park as part of this investment program.

Based on a review of a range of options for the location of the new Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Reception Center over the past eight months, which has involved Parks Canada specialists, architectural consultants and stakeholders, Parks Canada is confirming today that the new Visitor Reception Centre will be situated on an open area within the townsite along Windflower Avenue, close to the entrance of the Townsite Campground, and adjacent to the tennis courts and playground.

The townsite location provides an unparalleled platform for presenting the park. Located in the center of the town, it offers magnificent views in all directions that reinforce the park’s ecological, cultural and historical significance.

The townsite location provides easy visitor access from anywhere in the village, which receives all of the national park’s visitors. This location will maximize the opportunity for Parks Canada to connect directly, multiple times during a single visit, with the greatest number of visitors through welcome, orientation and the full range of interpretive programing possible from early morning to evening.

Parks Canada will consult on the design of the new facility in 2016. Construction of this new Visitor Reception Centre will start in 2018, with expected completion in 2019.

Quick Facts:
  • Built in 1958, the existing Visitor Reception Centre is small (56 square metres/600 square feet) and wholly inadequate to meet the needs and volumes of today’s visitors to Waterton Lakes National Park. It is also situated in a wildlife corridor and at a congested parking lot and trailhead for the Bears Hump trail, which is the most popular and most used trail in the national park. 
  • Visitation to Waterton Lakes National Park has increased by over 50% since 2000, from 300,000 to 477,000 visitors in 2015/16, and 45% of the park’s visitors are new visitors. 
  • Established in 1895, is Canada’s fourth oldest national park and forms the Canadian part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first International Peace Park, which is also a World Heritage Site. Waterton Lakes National Park is a major driver for the economy of southwestern Alberta. 
“This is the most important of all the new projects in Waterton Lakes National Park. This reception centre will welcome Canadians and visitors from around the world, and provide them with opportunities to learn about the park’s cultural and environmental significance and its international status as part of the world's first International Peace Park and World Heritage Site.” - Ifan Thomas, Field Unit Superintendent, Waterton Lakes National Park
“The Council of the Improvement District #4 is in full support of the new Visitor Reception Centre in the Waterton Park community. This will be a great improvement in visitor services, and people will be able to walk to this location from wherever they are in the Townsite. As 100% of the visitors to Waterton already come to the townsite, there will be no additional traffic or parking issues." - Dr. Brian Reeves, Chair, Improvement District (I.D.) #4
“It is wholly fitting that the hundreds of thousands of visitors of one of Canada’s most beautiful and pre-eminent national parks will be served by a new visitor reception centre located at the very heart of Waterton Lakes National Park.” - The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Regular updates will be issued as information is confirmed. Please consult the Waterton Lakes National Park website at for the latest updated information and a map of projects that may impact your visit.

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