Construction begins on Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Centre
May 8, 2019 Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Parks Canada Agency
Canada’s national parks belong to all Canadians. They represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples.
Following four years of planning, public engagement, engineering and design work, and environmental assessment, Parks Canada is pleased to announce a contract has been awarded for the construction of the Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Centre. Following a public tendering process by Public Services and Procurement Canada, a $17.3 million construction contract has been awarded to Graham Construction, based in Calgary, Alberta. To maximize the short construction season in Waterton, work is already underway. This project is one of the most significant investments in visitor facilities in Waterton Lakes National Park in the past 50 years.
Once complete, this landmark project will serve as the park’s primary visitor-oriented facility. The visitor centre will offer modern interpretive exhibits and educational programming, as well as a full range of visitor information services. It will welcome Canadians and visitors from around the world, providing them with opportunities to learn about the park’s environmental and cultural significance, including the area’s importance to local Indigenous communities. Interpretive elements will also be incorporated into the visitor centre’s outdoor plaza, which will serve as a meeting place in the community. In addition, a new nature-based playground will provide a place for play and learning for families with children.
Parks Canada values Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, and will continue to work closely with local Indigenous communities to develop interpretive material for the new Visitor Centre that reflects Blackfoot history, traditions, culture, values, and connection to what is now Waterton Lakes National Park.
The visitor centre is an investment in the future of Waterton Lakes National Park and will serve the park and its visitors for decades to come. The visitor centre is scheduled to open to the public in spring 2021.
In 2019, Parks Canada continues to offer a wide range of special events, volunteer activities, and interpretation programs. To help visitors plan their trip, a full list is available, along with information on recreation opportunities, on our website: www.parkscanada.ca/waterton.
Waterton Lakes National Park is part of a World Heritage Site, and together with Glacier National Park, U.S.A., it forms the world's first International Peace Park and International Dark Sky Park.
In Waterton Lakes National Park, approximately $96 million has been invested in 18 projects through the Federal Infrastructure Investment Program, supporting high-quality and meaningful visitor experiences and helping to protect the environment. The visitor centre represents a significant investment under this program.
In September 2017, the Kenow Wildfire burned roughly 20,000 hectares in Waterton Lakes National Park. The wildfire impacted approximately 38 per cent of the park, resulting in loss or significant damage to visitor experience and operational assets. In addition to advancing Federal Infrastructure Investment projects, Parks Canada is also assessing, repairing, and rebuilding over 30 assets damaged by the 2017 Kenow Wildfire.
Building this new visitor centre in the Waterton townsite aligns closely with the commitments in Waterton Lakes National Park’s management plan and community plan. Parks Canada has ensured the visitor centre project meets all appropriate standards and requirements for development within a national park.
Parks Canada is seeking LEED Silver certification on this project in recognition of its environmental sustainability. The visitor centre is designed to meet LEED criteria in several ways, including washrooms designed to reduce water use, mechanical systems designed to reduce energy use, and charging stations being provided for electric vehicles, among others.
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
Waterton Lakes National Park
Parks Canada Agency
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