Admitted to taking down endangered trees: Lake Louise ski resort to be sentenced

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed

A judge is to sentence a world-renowned Alberta ski resort today for cutting down endangered trees five years ago.

The Lake Louise resort in Banff National Park pleaded guilty last December to taking down a stand of trees, including some whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013.

The resort is to be sentenced in a Calgary courtroom on two charges — one under the Species At Risk Act and the other under the Canada National Parks Act.

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed. The Crown originally said 39 were removed, but the defence said the number was much lower.

The maximum fine under the Species At Risk Act for each tree destroyed is $300,000, while the maximum per tree is $250,000 under the National Parks Act.

“We’ll be relieved when it’s finally over,” said Dan Markham, communications director for Lake Louise Ski Resort.

READ MORE: B.C. ‘legacy tree’ policy under review after ancient fir logged

“Lake Louise is eager to move forward and initiate the remediation plan we’ve been working on in co-operation with Parks Canada.”

The long-lived, five-needle whitebark pine is native to high elevations and is threatened by invasive disease, fire and climate change. It is considered crucial because it provides food and habitat for animals and helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.

The tree exists at high elevations in western North America at or close to the treeline. It has been growing on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.

An agreed statement of facts says a trail crew, consisting of six employees including a supervisor, began maintenance in the summer of 2013 on Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski resort. The work involved cleaning up, repairing and erecting fences, and trimming and removing some trees.

The document says that in late September of that year, the workers cut down a number of trees, including endangered whitebark pine, without a permit.

The facts statement says it wasn’t until Aug. 12, 2014, that Parks Canada and resort personnel who were assessing the site for a new hiking trail discovered the endangered trees had been cut.

DNA analysis confirmed the trees were whitebark pine. The matter was turned over to Parks Canada for an investigation and charges were laid.

The court document says Lake Louise was co-operative during the investigation and has taken steps to prevent similar occurrences. It says the resort has also spent money on initiatives related to the whitebark pine, including extensive mapping of that tree in the area.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ponoka resident earns PhD in neuroscience

Carolyn Fleck- Prediger will continue work with patients with brain injury

PHOTOS: Pacific Equine Sport Winter Jumper Series

Held Jan. 18 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Bantam Broncs dish out annual awards

Story and photos of awards banquet held Jan. 16

Town trusts purchaser to complete stucco work on the former Kinsmen Centre

A short town council meeting Jan. 14 dealt with a number of… Continue reading

Burn ‘N’ Mahn Dueling Pianos Extreme show coming to Ponoka

Show will be held at the Ponoka Legion on Jan. 25

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Alberta premier wants federal government to do more about opioid imports

Jason Kenney says Canada should find ways to cut down on drugs being smuggled into the country

Alberta Energy Regulator laying off staff, restructures, deals with budget cuts

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring

Energy companies owe more than double the tax to Alberta municipalities

Survey says communities are owed $173 million — up 114% since last spring

No gondola from Banff to Mount Norquay, feds say

Parks Canada dismisses proposal for gondola, Grizzly Pavilion and boardwalks

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Most Read