Hot springs privatization coming

A controversial decision to privatize the Parks Canada Mountain Parks Hot Springs is still in the works.

A controversial decision to privatize the Parks Canada Mountain Parks Hot Springs is still in the works, even though it will be some time before it happens. Pat Thomsen, executive director of the Mountain National Parks, has been tapping into the issues with the sale and is developing a plan to help progress toward the goal of securing a private operator for the hot pools in Radium, Jasper and Banff.

“There isn’t a delay that we have enacted,” said Thomsen. “We are taking the time to do this properly to ensure that we are seeking the best opportunities both for Canadians and visitors to our Hot Springs. It is a process that is taking more time than we might have realized but we are continuing to advance it.”

She added nobody has washed their hands of the upcoming changes in management.

“The decision to seek a private operator for the Hot Springs came out of the 2008 budget direction and it was part of a strategic review,” said Thomsen. “Seventeen departments and agencies in the government went through it to ensure we were focused on our core mandate and it was believed that a private operator could more effectively (run) a pool operation than Parks Canada while maintaining it as one of those iconic parks experiences… It has continued to progress.”

Concerns have continually been expressed about the cost of accessing the hot springs during regular business hours if the Parks Canada Mountain National Parks became privately owned.

“From our union perspective and from our members perspective, we want to continue to operate and be present as public servants delivering a quality visitor experience in the National Parks of Canada, not just in Radium but in Banff and in Miette Hot Springs in Jasper,” said Kevin King, regional vice-president of the Union of National Employees. “with very little profit margin and for the benefit of the travelling public whether they be localized or travelling from another part of the country. My understanding is that it’s business as usual for the foreseeable future.”

However, it remains unclear when a request for proposals will be issued to private owners.

“We haven’t issued a Request for Proposal yet,” said Thomsen. “That would be the signal that it’s going to be more imminent or at least the potential of assessing operators will be more imminent so I couldn’t give you a timeline right now on any potential calls to the public for an operator.

Instead, there has been a lot of thought put into the decision to continually make improvements to the facilities while the logistics are discussed.

“There were times where we thought we had a very immediate timeline and then realized this is something fairly significant changing for us,” she said, noting the decision to privatize all three locations was made in 2008 but the formal process did not begin until 2012.

“We have the opportunity this year to make some capital investments into some of the hot pools facilities which is very important for their operational health and their viability,” added Thomsen. “That work will be underway this year so I think that it will be a more immediate focus for us in the short term.”

She was pleased to announce roughly 240,000 people visited the Radium Hot Springs during the 2014 and 2015 season, which is a 13 per cent increase from the 2013 and 2014 season.

“It would be important to us as we prepare a Request for Proposal to see that the significance of these places won’t be lost in the kind of offer that’s made.” concluded Thomsen. “I couldn’t confirm (it at this point) but it’s one of the things that we would be hoping for in a private operator.

“In the last year, we saw about a 10 per cent growth in visitation at all three locations and we’re very happy about it.”

 

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read