Mount Norquay gets approval to expand

Parks Canada has approved plans that will give tourists more access during the summer to Mount Norquay in Banff National Park.

Plans include more access to the mountain in summer

Parks Canada has approved summer expansion plans for Mount Norquay. (CBC)

Parks Canada has approved a long range plan that will give tourists more access during the summer to Mount Norquay in Banff National Park.

"The approval of the Mount Norquay 2013 Long Range Plan is a watershed event for national ski park areas," said Peter Kent, the federal minister responsible for the environment and for Parks Canada.

The approved plans include reopening a tea house and observation area on the upper mountain.

Operators will also install cables and ladders to create a climbing route — referred to as "via ferrata" in Europe.

Norquay will be allowed to add new ski runs and widen an existing run.

The resort must also improve habitat in the area which includes closing and restoring a ski run in a wildlife corridor.

Wildlife concerns

Norquay is the only ski resort within the park that does not operate in the summer months.

Carolyn Campbell from the Alberta Wilderness Association, says previous owners of the resort had agreed to give up summer use of the park in order to expand their winter operations.

"That agreement has been broken and wildlife are the losers," said Campbell.

The AWA had raised its concerns to Parks Canada that the ski resort sits next to a wildlife corridor for grizzly bears and contains sensitive vegetation.

Campbell says there is a way to combine increased tourism and still respect the ecology of the area.

"What we don't need is more Disneyland that sacrifices wilderness."

She says today's decision shows Parks Canada moving towards the continual urbanization of national parks.