LAKE LOUISE, AB, Sept. 6, 2019 /CNW/ - Parks Canada is committed to protecting the environment and providing high-quality and meaningful visitor experiences, with ecological integrity as the first priority in decision making.
Parks Canada is pleased to announce the approval of the Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan. The Long-Range Plan is a significant achievement that makes major gains in conservation and will enhance visitor experience at one of Canada's most iconic winter destinations, in addition to creating long-term business certainty for Banff National Park and the Lake Louise Ski Area.
The Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan provides tangible improvements to the ecological integrity at the ski area and the surrounding region. Important environmental gains include:
- A permanent reduction in the ski area leasehold by almost 30 per cent (669 hectares). This land – an area approximately the same size as the Marmot Basin (558 Ha) and Mount Norquay Ski Areas (167 Ha) combined – is sensitive alpine wildlife habitat for grizzly bear, wolverine, mountain goat and other species, and will be designated as protected wilderness.
- Relocating summer hiking and interpretation to an alpine location at a higher elevation to support improved habitat for grizzly bears.
- A significant reduction of water withdrawal from the Pipestone River and Corral Creek during periods of low flow. The Long-Range Plan identifies a number of measures that will be undertaken to reduce the ski area's dependence on water withdrawal during low-flow periods, including the development of water reservoirs.
- Investments by the Lake Louise Ski Area to contribute to the protection of white bark pine – a species-at-risk.
The Lake Louise Long Range Plan also includes new and improved experiences for visitors such as new ski runs, development of a new day lodge to support relocated summer use operations, and terrain modification in key locations to improve skier safety and circulation.
The Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan follows the strict and permanent limits to growth set out in the ski area's Site Guidelines. In addition, Parks Canada has a rigorous development review and environmental assessment process that ensures all development proposals comply with these limits and that healthy ecosystems are maintained.
Parks Canada's places belong to all Canadians. The views and input from Indigenous peoples, local residents, stakeholder organizations, and visitors play an important role in shaping Parks Canada's priorities and direction. Parks Canada and the Lake Louise Ski Area worked closely together to consult with Indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and the public on the Long-Range Plan and detailed impact assessment (environmental assessment). Input from all of these sources were carefully considered in finalizing the Long-Range Plan.
Parks Canada recognizes downhill skiing is a cornerstone to winter tourism in Banff and Jasper national parks. Carefully planned and managed ski areas make the protection of ecology a priority while providing meaningful visitor experiences and contributing to the conservation objectives of Parks Canada. Parks Canada has worked successfully with ski areas in the mountain national parks to achieve ecological gains and meet the evolving expectations of visitors.
The approved Long-Range Plan is available online.
- A Long-Range Plan is a document prepared by the ski area that describes the specific project proposals, or change-in-use proposals, that a ski area aspires to implement over a specified period of time (anticipated to be from 5 to15 years).
- The Lake Louise Long-Range Plan is consistent with the approved Site Guidelines, Ski Area Management Guidelines 2006, and the Banff National Park Management Plan.
- The detailed impact assessment (DIA) concluded that, by implementing specific mitigation measures, there will be no significant ecological impacts from the projects outlined in the Long-Range Plan and that, in fact, a number of ecological gains will be achieved through the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines and the Long Range Plan. The DIA also commits the Lake Louise Ski Area to continually monitor and adapt their environmental protection measures to ensure long-term sustainability.
- With the approval of the Long-Range Plan, the Lake Louise Ski Area may now advance specific project proposals. Individual projects will be subject to further environmental review, including opportunities for public comment on more complex projects.
- Downhill skiing was introduced in Canada by early Swiss mountain guides and has been part of the visitor experience in the mountain national parks almost since their establishment. Organized downhill areas first appeared in the 1920s and the first mechanical ski lift was used at Mt. Norquay in 1941. Long-Range Plans, Site Guidelines, and modern leases ensure that skiing will remain an integral part of the mountain national park experience long into the future.
SOURCE Parks Canada