A local tour operator feels he’s being left out after the certification he needs to bring tourists to Moraine Lake was recently denied by Parks Canada.
On Wednesday, Elite Brands Culture Discovery Tour owner Jerzy Maslanka said he received an email from Parks Canada informing him that his application to certify his four-passenger Jeep as a commercially registered vehicle had been denied, and that it had “made the decision to not allow any vehicles under 11 persons capacity to operate on Moraine Lake Road for the 2023 season.”
“I’m going to be out of the business because the road is going to be opened on June 1, and I am not allowed to operate. Unfortunately, I’m going to lose the job and because of the situation I have right now so many people booked the tours for the summer,” says Maslanka.
The 63-year-old owner has been hosting tours out of his Jeep Wrangler for two years after retiring from the oil and gas industry in 2021.
“I will always be fascinated by the culture, by the history of Alberta,” says Maslanka.
“I thought that before I fully retired, I can share the culture and show the story. Not in a big setting, but just a small environment and make those tours as much meaningful as possible for the visitors to our beautiful province.”
Maslanka says his Jeep was previously licensed as a commercially registered vehicle over the past two years without any issues.
So far he has 47 bookings with his company.
“Right now so many people booked the tours for the summer and I have to contact the people I have to tell them that I cannot take them to Moraine Lake and obviously this is the most beautiful lake. Everybody wants to go and see this lake so if you don’t take them to the lake they will cancel.”
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According to Parks Canada, starting this year the only vehicles that will be permitted on Moraine Lake Road will be Parks Canada Shuttles, Roam Public Transit, emergency response vehicles, buses that can transport 11 more people including the driver, and taxis with a business license to operate in Banff.
“They’re saying the taxi business industry can operate and take two people tomorrow and so they discriminate … They are saying taxis are better than the tour operators. Taxi drivers are not guides. They’re not qualified to do this,” he says.
Maslanka will still be permitted to operate tours in tourist destinations such as Jasper and Columbia Icefield but says Moraine Lake is the more popular destination amongst his clients.
Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles all year round.
Maslanka says he has already written a letter to the various levels of government and plans to consult with a lawyer in the coming days.
“I need to be in business I need this money to you know to survive and I need to put my passion and take the people and show them that our province is beautiful, the Rockies are beautiful,” he says.
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