Newfoundland — Parks Canada has been asking Newfoundlanders for feedback on how to develop Gros Morne National Park, and they received the public’s message loud and clear: build more attractions for non nature-lovers.
Starting May 2019, construction will begin on a strip mall with an accompanying food court in the Western Brook Pond area of the park.
“After the huge success of the gravel road we put in that area, we’re looking to make it even more tourist-friendly,” explained park public relations officer Gary Klarten.
“Once we’ve paved the road and installed traffic lights, we’ll be able to develop a huge parking lot where we can host a strip mall that will feature such businesses as Bed Bath & Beyond, Wicker Emporium, Walmart, The Gap, and if we’re lucky, a Costco or IKEA.”
The food court will provide visitors with a gourmet selection of Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and a KFC for an energy boost while they hike the trails.
“This is just fantastic! I’m so glad the park listened to us,” said Peter Gullie, one of the attendees of the consultation sessions, who spoke around a mouthful of fries.
“I’ve always hated seeing fit, healthy people coming in and out of the park, making the rest of us look and feel bad. And it just wasn’t really appealing for boat tours and locals who eat takeout every day, like me.”
But, as with any change, not everyone is happy about the park’s plans. A “Save Gros Morne From Gross Mistreatment That Will Cause Mourning” Facebook group was launched last week, and has already gathered 2,000 members.
“This is reprehensible! They are tarnishing nature with this abomination!” posted Judy Macintosh, a local nature activist and founder of the online group. “The Western Brook Pond gravel road was bad enough. Leave it be! If they touch so much as one more blade of grass in that park, then I can’t live on this island anymore. And I know I’m not alone.”
But others still support the development, and point to the construction work as a catalyst for temporary job-creation.
“Yeah, maybe we accidentally steamroll a few tadpoles or something, but this is progress and you gotta accept it,” explained strip-mall architect Carl Donahue.
“More people will come to the park because of this. And with the economic boost, maybe the park can make some kind of official nature preserve next to the food court or something. Yeah…that’d be real nice for the customers to look at while they eat.”