Bar U Ranch feels pinch from federal government

Foothills: Parks Canada facing $29.2 million budget cut

By: By April Ip

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 09:33 am

The Bar U Ranch is the only National Historic Park that represents the history of ranching in Alberta. No permanent position were cut at the ranch.
The Bar U Ranch is the only National Historic Park that represents the history of ranching in Alberta. No permanent position were cut at the ranch.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Whether you work as a horse groomer, superintendent or waitress at Parks Canada, your job could be in jeopardy.

The federal government is cutting costs across the country and the hit is being felt hardest by staff at national parks.

Banff, one of the country's most renowned tourism hot spots saw 13 jobs eliminated and sightseeing rival Jasper witnessed 16 positions disappear. Eight positions were also cut in Waterton and 299 staff members are getting affected notices in the Prairies – notices could include shortened workweeks for the park's season and moving from full-time to part-time positions.

The new budget cuts have also reached the foothills, where National Historic Site the Bar U Ranch is located – nearby residents were concerned.

Currently, the Bar U Ranch is the only National Historic Site to represent the history of ranching in Alberta. The majestic tourism magnet was established in 1882 and was one of the foremost ranching operations in Canada.

Fortunately, Ifan Thomas, superintendent for the Waterton Lake Unit of Parks Canada, said only two positions were cut from Bar U.

“The two positions are not currently being operated by permanent employees, one is being filled by a temporary person and the other is vacant,” Thomas confirmed.

Thomas could not disclose what positions these were, but said the ranch will only see a slight reduction in capacity. In addition to the roles being eliminated, two other jobs will be reduced in length for the season.

The hours of operation and the actual season for Bar U will not be affected. Some of the staff in Waterton will also be adjusted to help the ranch out as management sees fit.

Thomas said the cut backs for Parks Canada as a whole will be $29.2 million this year.

The Bar U site has many historic structures illustrating different stages of ranching development and boasts a vibrant living history program that interprets the West's younger days.

The ranch opens for the season on May 20 and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.


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