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NEWS: Kent approves privatized glacier ‘museum’ in national park

Postmedia News reports, “Environment Minister Peter Kent has given a green light to allow a commercial developer to create a ‘Glacier Discovery Walk’ project at Jasper National Park in Alberta. He recognized there was a great deal of debate over the project, but described it as an innovative initiative, similar to another walkway at the Grand Canyon.”

The Canadian Press adds, “The minister says the approval follows a robust environmental assessment and a review that included open houses and consultations with aboriginal groups. Brewster Travel Canada plans to build a multimillion-dollar interpretive boardwalk and a glass-bottomed observation point high over the Sunwapta Valley. The minister says the project will be built largely on an existing parking lot and won’t disrupt the local ecology. He says Parks Canada will monitor the project for any environmental problems.”

And a Globe and Mail report notes, “The proposed multimillion-dollar tourist attraction would be built off of Alberta’s Highway 93 – the Icefields Parkway – one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The facility would also be 6.5 kilometres up the road from the Athabasca Glacier, one of the globe’s most publicly visible victims of global warming.”

In 2007, reported, “The Athabasca glacier, where the (Athabasca) river originates, has shrunk significantly in the last 70 to 80 years. …Research shows that some tributaries to the Athabasca River could dry up if Alberta warms up six degrees (which is expected to occur over time). …(Water expert David) Schindler said the government hasn’t taken into account the full potential impact of climate change on the river before deciding how much water oilsands companies can take from the river at different times of the year.”

Natural Resources Canada has stated that in Canada there will be “decreases in water availability resulting from increased intensity and frequency of drought, declining snowpack and glacier dimunition. …Canada’s glaciers hold water resources equivalent to all of the water contained by our lakes and rivers. As a Nordic country, much of Canada’s freshwater is derived from seasonal and perennial snow and ice, which exerts important controls on the timing and magnitude of water fluxes. …Glaciers play a role in recharging groundwater aquifers.”

In April 2010, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke on ‘climate change, glaciers and human rights’ at a forum organized by Agua Sustenable, Fundacion Solon, IHH-UMSA, and AMPM in Cochabamba, Boliva. She said, “The issue of glacier melt is where climate justice and water justice come together. Water abuse is hurting the climate, and climate injustice is hurting water. …What Canadian mining companies do here and our refusal to lower our climate impact are a crime against humanity. …Water is a human right, but we have to look at the rights of Mother Earth. We cannot separate the two. If we had protected Mother Earth, we would not see the human rights abuses we are seeing now. …Our governments put profits before life and we need to build the most powerful movement the planet has ever known!”

More on Maude’s speech on glaciers can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=2948.