Canada Just Made Its National Parks Free For Kids To Visit. Permanently.

The budget also calls for an investment of $1.3 billion over the next five years to conserve and protect Canadian waters, land, and more.

On Feb. 27, Canada made an announcement that stands to have a profound impact on all of its young citizens. As reported by HuffPost, our neighbors to the north have officially followed through on a promise from last year to make all of Canada's national parks permanently free for children 17 and under.

For a little background info, Canada had waived the entrance fee to its national parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites for everyone in 2017 to celebrate the country's 150th birthday, and the measure proved so popular that the government opted to extend it. With this move, the Canadian government is fulfilling an earlier pledge Liberals made to make national parks entry free for children 17 and under starting this year.

"This budget recognizes something that every Canadian understands: that our quality of life, and our present and our future prosperity, is deeply connected to the environment in which we live," Finance Minister Bill Morneau explained in his 2018 budget speech delivered yesterday, according to CTV News.

Per earlier plans to make the national parks free, HuffPost notes the government had earmarked $83.3 million over five years to allow for the lack of admission fees for all Canadians. 

As for the popularity of the earlier program, Morneau added, "Some parks were so busy they had to turn people away!" 

However, some note the crowds this announcement might attract could actually harm Canada's parks and other natural resources. Greg Pyle, a biology professor at the University of Lethbridge, tweeted, "Extending free admissions to everyone would be bad for Canada's National Parks. If last year was any indication, there'd be huge crowds, trampled landscapes, lots of trash in otherwise pristine areas, and harassed wildlife." 

Perhaps in an effort to offset some of the negative consequences, the new budget plan also contains an investment of $1.3 billion over the next five years to conserve and protect Canadian waters, land, and biodiversity. Furthermore, $500 million of that is expected go toward creating a new Nature Fund, which will secure private land for conservation and protect animals.

Given how the U.S. national parks have fared of late, it might not hurt to take some pointers from our pals in Canada.

Cover image via kavram / Shutterstock.


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