When it comes to describing the wonder of a national park, numbers would seem to fall short. Still, with six of them, the Northwest Territories has more than its fair share of Canada’s total of 48 (that’s nearly 13 per cent).
Most, like Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Deh Cho, are not reasonably accessible to most NWT residents.
Luckily for all of us there are another 34 territorial parks managed by the territorial government, including Blackstone, which offers views of the Nahanni range, and Sambaa Deh Falls, which grants access to Sambaa Deh and Coral Falls via hiking trails extending from the campground.
Which is to say nothing of the fathomless expanse of wilderness outside of parks for residents to find their own perfect personal hideaway.
Not everyone is in a position to take an extravagant holiday but the ability to write off two trips every year, highlighted in advice from accountants, including Andy Wong in last week’s issue of News/North, has the potential to be the primer the engine of the economy will need to fire up when we finally reach phase three of the pandemic recovery plan, and the freedom of phase four after that.
There are bound to be bundles of Northerners, maybe in the South Slave and Thebacha, who have always wanted to see the Arctic Ocean. Or to return to it. Now’s the time. How about kayak enthusiasts who have never experienced the South Slave Paddlefest on the world-renowned whitewater outside Fort Smith? Take a few friends and be socially distant on the Slave River, dodging eddies and chasing pelicans.
Which is to say nothing of the fishing – oh, the fishing – available in every corner of the NWT.
The NWT is in the grips of something of a social experiment. A population of people who cannot leave the territory without a severe penalty upon their return in the form of a two-week quarantine, but with the ability to explore this grand land of ours while giving a boost to their tax returns. And not just once but twice every year, assuming they aren’t otherwise prevented from doing so by a lack of vacation time or resources at hand to outlay for the cost of the trip.
For all the ways our governments make us scratch our heads as they spend our tax dollars, the Northern deductions can provide a powerful boost to the economies of the NWT while giving individuals some much needed relief and relaxation. And everything from a grand journey to Tuktoyaktuk to a weekend camping trip at a GNWT-run campsite closer to home is eligible. All that spending, from plane tickets to gas to camping supplies, will be like rain in the desert for tourism-dependent businesses that two years ago were awash in the more than 120,000 people who came to the NWT to view the Northern Lights, hunt, fish or experience an outdoor adventure, spending more than $210 million in the process.
So dust off those hip waders and that bucket list and explore the “Spectacular NWT.” And when you get your tax return in the spring, do it all over again.