Paragliders and hang gliders will soon be flying high above Jasper National Park.
Parks Canada recently approved the Guidelines for New Recreational Activities in the park. Under the guidelines, paragliding and hang gliding will be permitted on a trial basis.
“We’ve been working on this for close to nine years,” said Bruce Busby, vice president of the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada (HPAC). Busby, who lives in Calgary, said the decision is good for pilots, as well as Jasper businesses.
Parks Canada has said that the agency recognizes that visitors are seeking a connection to their national parks through a diverse range of recreational activities.
“The guidelines ensure that the new…activities meet environmental protection goals,” a memo from the superintendent’s desk states.
In 2010, Parks Canada conducted national assessments of guided via ferrata tours in Banff and Yoho national parks.
Based on feedback from that assessment, the mountain national parks developed guidelines for all nationally-approved activities, including mountain biking, hang gliding, paragliding and traction kiting.
Jasperite Meg Arn is a kiter. It was news to her that the activity was officially approved; she’s never been approached by officials when kiting at various locations in Jasper. Nevertheless, the welcomes the endorsement.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “It means hours of fun for people like myself who enjoy harnessing the wind.”
As for hang gliding and paragliding, pilots will need to be vetted through HPAC. The group is in the process of scouting potential launch and landing sites.