A lot of people have inquired what more they can do to help. Signing the abovementioned petition is a huge help - sharing it helps equally as much.
We need to get upset, we need to be loud, and we need to let it be known that we won't stand for this. Awareness is key. A share is worth just as much as a donation, or a letter - we need the story out there.
Please read the below articles to gather a sense of what has happened to Fran Drummond, a woman who has contributed to the history of a national Canadian park and heritage site, for 57 years. As of June 28, no official reason has been stated by Parks Canada as to why a lease renewal is not available to her.
Investments into the Chalet/Tea House to maintain its standing over the past 57 years have come directly from Fran's pocket - including major restorations, upgrades, running water, FoodSafe training for volunteer staff, and more .
The money provided from this GoFundMe will allow Fran access to the lawyer that she needs to renew this lease due to having guests booked for this summer! This money raised will be used as a retainer, which is what is needed for her to pursue legal action against Parks Canada, and Alex Kolesch.
In the event that the lease is NOT able to be renewed, Fran will need access to these funds to ensure that her personal property is able to be removed safely from the chalet.
Thank you all for your time. Please read articles below, including letter from Parks Canada/Alex Kolesch.
A remote mountain lodge in British Columbia that’s been attracting tourists from around the world for more than half a century is in danger of closing, thanks to a stand-off between its manager and Parks Canada.
Fran Drummond has operated the Twin Falls Chalet since taking over the building from Canadian Pacific Railroad 57 years ago. The isolated lodge in Yoho National Park offers meals, beds, and tranquility to guests but few modern amenities as there is no electricity or plumbing.
"I get a lot of repeat business from all over the world," said Drummond. "I think its homey and the unusual location is inspiring. You have to hike in but all you have got to do is backpack the necessary things to stay."
Even though Drummond runs the lodge, it’s owned by the federal government since it sits in a national park.
The government offers long-term agreements to business operators on their property in exchange for a cut of the profits. However, the agreement between Drummond and Parks Canada expired five years ago. She has continued to operate the chalet under the previous arrangement but now the government says it plans to take control of Twin Falls Chalet as of July 1.
The government won’t say why it hasn’t extended the arrangement but Drummond says Parks Canada wants a higher percentage of the profits, something Drummond says she can’t afford. She says she doesn’t take a salary for running the facility and that she’s invested thousands of dollars in it.
"I’ve been the proprietor and I put on the new roof and everything after saving it. I have equity in that lodge."
Drummond also says wildfires in recent years have forced her to close the lodge early. She only planned to open it for three weeks this summer instead of the usual six.
"We have a great deal of respect for Fran and we admire her dedication to the Twin Falls Tea House” said Alex Kolesch, a spokesperson for Parks Canada. "We also have a duty to make sure these places are managed for the benefit of all Canadians."
According to Kolesch, the government is open to striking a new arrangement with Drummond but they are also willing to find a new operator for the site.
Drummond says she has guests booked to arrive at the beginning of July but she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to honour the reservations since she may no longer be in charge.
“It’s very stressful. When I make a commitment I like to keep a commitment"
Future operation of the historic Twin Falls Chalet and teahouse in Yoho National Park is uncertain.
Fran Drummond, who has run the chalet for the past 57 years, said Parks Canada has told her she would be locked out of the building this summer in the absence of a new licence of occupation.
She’s fired off a letter to federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna to step in, noting her desire to continue running the chalet has been tied up in continued bureaucracy.
“Unfortunately, I hold a few reservations starting July 1 for the summer—some made two years in advance,” Drummond said. “These guests will be thoroughly disappointed that they are unable to be at Twin Falls Chalet.”
Drummond’s licence of occupation expired at the end of 2014 and the parties have been in discussion over the past few years. She has continued to operate the chalet in the intervening summers.
Alex Kolesch, a senior advisor for Parks Canada, said the agency is willing to continue working with Drummond to look at solutions for the coming season.
“This is a very unfortunate situation both parties find themselves in, because we have a tremendous amount of respect for Fran Drummond and the long association she has with both Twin Falls National Historic Site and her history with visitors over the decades,” he said.
“We also have a duty to Canadians to ensure operators are in good standing and are meeting the requirements and expectations of the agency.”
When licences of occupation come up for renewal, Parks Canada opens it to a competitive process to make it fair, transparent and equitable for all Canadians.
“We’re just not in position to turn around and issue a licence of occupation to the operator, but Fran Drummond is more than welcome to apply,” Kolesch said.
“We’ve been moving at a pace we think is appropriate for the circumstances, but we’ve come to the realization that we’re challenged to do anything other than the action you’re seeing now.”
A national historic site, the lower building was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1908, with construction of the two-storey main lodge completed in 1923. It opened for business the following year as a teahouse.
In 1962, Drummond took over running the teahouse.
She said that without the use of horses these days the logistics of getting food and supplies to the chalet is a challenge, noting that helicopters are far too expensive.
“No horses have been allowed since the mid 1990s, and therefore no trail riders or transportation facility for Twin Falls Chalet, resulting in no tea service,” she said.
“Serving tea is expensive and wasteful when we do not know the numbers of day guests on the trails. In order to serve day guests plastic serving wear is used and is environmentally wasteful.”
In her letter to McKenna dated June 12, Drummond indicated she has concerns over the percentage of gross she must pay to Parks Canada, arguing it is unacceptable given the shorter seasons due to forest fires.
“Smoke levels reached 10+health warning which provided a less than three week operating season,” she said. “I am about to lose my retirement.”
Parks can’t go into specific details on their dealings with Drummond.
“It’s difficult to share everything’s that happened because that’s a matter between us and the operator,” Kolesch said.
“We’ve been in communication with her over the years, we meet and chat with her regularly, most recently in January.”
The next step for Parks Canada is to essentially accept proposals.
“We would come up with the criteria and the standards by which we’d expect the operation to be managed and run,” Kolesch said.
“We would seek proposals and then evaluate them, but we haven’t even come up with criteria yet, we’re not that far along.”
The chalet typically opens July 1 each year, but Drummond is not sure what’s next.
“It has become a hideous end to my stewardship of the chalet,” she said.