Parks Canada move to Fort Smith
Move puts staff closer to Wood Buffalo park

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 28/97) - Parks Canada head offices in Yellowknife are moving to greener pastures in Fort Smith.

The relocation means that five or six employees in the capital will have to move to Fort Smith or other Parks Canada offices if they want to keep their jobs, said Ken East, director of Canadian Heritage in the NWT.

"We are hoping that amongst our indeterminate staff that nobody will be without employment as a result of the minister's decision," he said.

Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the establishment of the new Fort Smith office a week ago. Locating the service near Wood Buffalo National Park only makes sense, she said.

"The new office in Fort Smith will bring Parks Canada services closer to the people that use them, and will create up to seven new Parks Canada jobs in Fort Smith," said Copps.

The new office will be responsible for the co-ordination of federal-territorial relations and will serve as a liaison point for other federal agencies and Parks Canada in the new western territory.

East maintains that it also means that two or three positions from Winnipeg will be relocated to Fort Smith.

He said that all the move really means is that the Yellowknife office will fall back to the same number of staff as it had before the administrative shakeup that came when Parks Canada was transferred from umbrella of the Environment Department and to the new Heritage Canada agency.

"Although this is an immediate sense of loss to Yellowknife," he said. "We are in effect, returning to our Yellowknife staff level of three years ago."

East said he couldn't comment on the location of the head office in Fort Smith, but he said he thought it would be likely that the national park offices wouldn't be large enough.

Superintendent positions in Fort Simpson and Inuvik and the operation of Nahanni National Park and the three national parks in the Inuvialuit settlement region won't be affected.

There are seven national parks and seven historic sites in the NWT.