The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Internal report says Parks Canada buildings in worse shape than claimed

  • Print

OTTAWA - Parks Canada's crumbling forts, historical houses and other heritage structures are in much poorer shape than the agency estimates.

That's the finding of an independent consultant asked to review a comprehensive inventory created by Parks Canada to determine how much repair work is needed for its varied infrastructure across the country.

The agency's 2012 inventory found that 47 per cent of all its assets — from dams, bridges and roads, to old stone forts — are in poor or very poor condition.

But Opus International Consultants Ltd. said its own sampling of hundreds of assets pushed that overall level to 53 per cent.

And so-called cultural assets — the historical houses, fortifications, locks and other heritage gems from Canada's past — are in even worse shape.

Opus estimates 61 per cent of these 2,000 structures are in poor or very poor shape, compared with Parks Canada's more rosy assessment of just 33 per cent.

"Results indicate that at the portfolio level the value of (Parks Canada) assets in poor condition has increased from condition reported in the 2012 National Asset Review," says the Opus report, which cost taxpayers $316,000.

A copy of the Dec. 16, 2013, document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Tuesday's federal budget earmarked $392 million over five years for highways, bridges and dams under Parks Canada's jurisdiction, including repairs to part of the Trans-Canada Highway that runs through Glacier National Park in British Columbia. The budget did not include additional funds for repairs to cultural assets.

Parks Canada has come under fire in recent years for weak management of its real-estate portfolio, which includes historic canals and archeological sites, in addition to campgrounds, access roads and visitor centres.

An internal evaluation in 2009 slammed officials for failing to maintain a reliable inventory of hundreds of buildings and other structures, estimated to be worth some $15 billion today.

In response, Parks Canada undertook a thorough review of all its assets in 2012 to set a baseline, estimating there was $2.9 billion worth of deferred repairs.

More than half the deferred work was earmarked for waterways, highways and bridges — so-called high-risk assets — but Opus found these structures were in better condition than Parks Canada estimated.

Instead, irreplaceable cultural assets were found to be the most neglected, with almost two-thirds requiring about $230 million worth of repairs and maintenance work.

A spokeswoman for Parks Canada said the agency is still reviewing the Opus report, which she said largely backs the inventory estimates about the cost of repair work.

"Parks Canada has invested an average of $119 million annually over the last 10 years on the recapitalization of its infrastructure," Genevieve Patenaude said in an email before Tuesday's budget announcement.

Patenaude noted that last year's budget also provided $19 million for critical improvements to national park highways and bridges.

Parks Canada, which operates more than 200 national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas, has been hit hard since 2012 with budget cuts. The agency lost some 587 staff in 2012-2013, for example, or about 13 per cent of its workforce.

At the same time, 20.6 million people visited its sites in 2012-2013, a three per cent increase and the first rise in visitor numbers in four years.

Follow @DeanBeeby on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller

Photo Store Gallery

  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the suspensions levied against three bantam hockey players for abusing game officials?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google