HomeEcolodge scrapped

Ecolodge scrapped

Dec 22 1999

Developer Tim Banks and Parks Canada announced Monday that although a new interpretive centre in Greenwich is going ahead, plans for a 40-unit ecolodge have been scrapped. "We're putting the plans for the ecolodge on the backburner,'' Banks of APM Landmark Ltd., said Monday.

The partners in the Greenwich project staged a news conference in Charlottetown Monday to say the environmental assessment report for the interpretive/multipurpose centre is complete and it will go ahead as announced in October. Due to public environmental concerns, however, Parks Canada and APM dropped plans to build the ecolodge. "Parks Canada agrees with this approach and considers it to be a critical strategy in support of the ecological integrity of Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, which is our first priority,'' a Parks Canada news release said.

Banks promised that if an ecolodge is built, it will not be on National Park or Crown lands, out of respect of the environmental concerns people had. "We still think it's a very viable project but it's for another day,'' Banks said. The interpretive/multipurpose centre will be built 2.5 kilometers away from the ecologically sensitive dunes in Greenwich.

The centre will be built on federal Crown land adjoining the park near the access road from St. Peters in the central part of Greenwich. Work on the centre will start immediately with completion set for next summer. Greenwich is a few kilometers from St. Peters. Banks said the public's environmental concerns played a big role in scrapping the ecolodge. "You have to respect that,'' Banks said. "We can't go and try to go forward and have everybody fighting us and tarnishing our name because of what they perceive to be not good.''

Neither Banks nor Parks Canada would give out dollar figures on the renegotiated agreement. "The rate right now is proprietary information of the developer because we are going through the process of discussing the final size of the building and so on,'' Dave Lipton, field unit superintendent for P.E.I., Parks Canada, said Monday.

Kate MacQuarrie, executive director of Island Nature Trust, said her organization is happy the ecolodge is not part of the project. "This is what we had been hoping for,'' MacQuarrie said Monday. "Some of the other things that are coming with it as far as a very firm limit on a number of visitors is, again, what we've been asking for so we are very pleased with it.''

Lipton said a limit will be placed on the number of visitors to the park's western tip, although a daily limit for visitors has not been decided upon. It's expected that 100,000 people will visit the location annually, about 25,000 more than what Parks Canada would like. The visitors' centre can accommodate 100,000 or more people on an annual basis. "It's meant to be an alternative activity for people coming to the area,'' Lipton said.

Sharon Labchuk, speaking on behalf of the Island environmental activist group Earth Action, was less than thrilled with Monday's announcement. "We're not impressed in the least with what Parks Canada is doing in Greenwich,'' Labchuk told The Guardian. "We haven't been from the start and we're still not impressed even though they've decided not to go with the ecolodge.'' Labchuk does not want work to start before a panel on ecological integrity for Canada's national parks releases its report. The report was supposed to be released in November. "We would expect that responsible park managers, and park managers who are truly concerned about protecting the ecological integrity of Greenwich, would be waiting with bated breath for this report to ensure that their plans are going to be in accordance with what this panel will be recommending,'' Labchuk said. "It seems contrary that they are doing everything in their power to rush it through (before the panel's report).''

Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca