Calgary

Lake Louise expansion criticized by 11 former Parks Canada managers

A group of people who once held high-ranking jobs with Parks Canada are speaking up about the future blueprint of the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Letter expressing concerns sent to federal environment minister

When the Lake Louise Ski Resort's leasehold agreement was last amended in the '80s, the hill was meant to accommodate 6,000 visitors a day. Under the new development plan, that number could go up to 11,500. (Brian Burnett/CBC)

A group of people who once held high-ranking jobs with Parks Canada are speaking up about the future blueprint of Lake Louise Ski Resort.

"This is not Calgary's ski resort. This is Canada's national park. This is part of World Heritage site," said Kevin Van Tighem, who retired in 2011 as the superintendent of Banff National Park.

"The responsibilities are far more than meeting the opportunity for somebody to capitalize on increased demand from a nearby city," he said.

Van Tighem is one of 11 former Parks Canada managers who signed a letter, sent to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, expressing concerns over the expansion of the resort.

Earlier this month, Banff National Park released plans for the future development of Lake Louise, which could see the resort accommodate up to 11,500 visitors a day.

That's almost double what's set out in the current leasehold agreement, which has not been amended since the 1980s.

In return, Lake Louise would give back some land to Parks Canada to help preserve grizzly bears and other wildlife habitat.

However, as Van Tighem points out, under the new plan the ski hill would still be able to develop the following areas — which are not currently in the lease:

  • West Bowl
  • Hidden Bowl
  • Richardson's Ridge
  • West Juniper

Van Tighem says the plan does lay out some "real improvements" for water use in the Lake Louise area.

Currently, the hill taps into the Pipestone River to make snow when water levels are low in the fall and early winter.

"In the future, long-range plan the ski area can propose reservoirs that they could fill with water during periods when there's more water in streams and that would really reduce the impact on bull trout and cutthroat trout," said Van Tighem.

The deadline for public input on the draft Lake Louise Ski Area site guidelines closed on June 21.

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