Friday, 21 April 2017 08:00

Public feedback being sought about the new visitor centre in Waterton Lakes National Park

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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The Viewscapes design option is a captivating architectural form that is connected directly to the dramatic landscape of Waterton. The building form and use of natural materials directly relates to the mountainous setting. The Viewscapes design option is a captivating architectural form that is connected directly to the dramatic landscape of Waterton. The building form and use of natural materials directly relates to the mountainous setting. Image contributed

A new visitor centre will be built in Waterton Lakes National Park after the public helps choose the design. Parks Canada officials are asking for public input on the design of the new visitor centre to be built in the national park.


People from across the country are able to vote on their favourite of three design choices until May 12. Those interested are asked to share their input on the feel, look and function of the new visitor centre.
Having a new visitor centre in Waterton will allow Parks Canada to better serve Canadians.
“Parks Canada visitor centres are a primary service offered in our system of national parks,” says Locke Marshall, visitor experiences manager for Waterton.
The current visitor centre can no longer support the number of visitors the park receives annually. The existing facility, built in 1958, is small (only 600 square feet), has limited parking, only two washrooms and is “wholly inadequate to meet the needs of visitors today,” adds Marshall.
“It is situated at the ‘Bears Hump’ parking area, which is often congested and serves as the trail head for the most popular hike in the park.”
The new visitor centre will be located within the townsite to offer visitors a better level of service and enhanced visitor experiences through a full range of services and interpretive programming throughout the year.
“The facility will welcome Canadians, along with visitors from around the world and provide them with opportunities to learn about the park’s cultural and environmental significance and its status as part of a World Heritage Site and the world’s first International Peace Park,” adds Marshall.
The visitor centre will be a new hub in the heart of Waterton. It will inform, guide and inspire every visitor experience of the park.
A website was launched April 3 as somewhere for people to provide their public feedback on the design of the new visitor centre. As this is a large project for Waterton, Marshall says they felt it was important to ensure the new visitor centre meets the diverse and evolving needs of park visitors for generations to come.
Marshall says ensuring all interested Canadians have a say in such an important investment in Waterton Lakes National Park is an imperative step in the planning process.
Once the public feedback timeline is closed, Marshall says Parks Canada will post a report on the website capturing feedback and associated themes.
Parks Canada officials will also review and carefully consider all public feedback received and it will be used to inform the final design decision.
“The Waterton Lakes National Park Field Unit Superintendent will make the final decision based on public input and advice from Parks Canada experts,” he adds.
The three current design options were chosen through a competitive process.
Parks Canada awarded the design contract for the new visitor centre to Lethbridge-based FWBA Architects in August, 2016.
“The design concepts explored and recommended are founded in strong design principles and reflect the visitor service and operation requirements of Parks Canada,” adds Marshall.
To see full details on the new visitor centre designs and provide feedback visit: http://www.letstalkwaterton visitorcentre.ca/.
There will also be a public open house in Waterton April 29 where the three designs will be on display.

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