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Jasper’s New Glacier Discovery Walk Sparks Environmental Debate

Artist's rendering of the new Glacier Discovery Walk attraction. (Photo: Brewster Travel)

Soon you’ll be able to get up close and personal with a glacier at Jasper National Park via a floating observation platform on its new Glacier Discovery Walk attraction, set to open in 2013.

Not everyone is happy about the development. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, for one, has voiced concerns that the glacier walk is an environmental threat and a slippery slope of commercial enterprise that could eventually lead to privatization of national parks—i.e., next stop: Disneyland.

Federal government officials say that the two-year environmental assessment and wildlife impact study leading to Parks Canada’s decision was thorough. They promise that 97 per cent of the glacier will remain protected and off-limits.

An unofficial CBC poll indicated strong opposition to the glacier walk, with 82.5 per cent of participants saying they don’t support the project.

The plan for the Glacier Discovery Walk includes a 400-metre-long interpretive walkway and clear glass observation floor overlooking the Sunwapta Valley at Jasper’s Tangle Ridge viewpoint. Tours will be led by naturalists and will cost $15 to $20 per person.

The multimillion-dollar attraction will be built and operated by Brewster Travel Canada—a tour company that already runs tours in the national park, including vehicle tours of the Columbia Icefield Glacier.

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