Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park says a plan proposed by Parks Canada could hinder its future success.

The proposed site guidelines for Sunshine Village released this summer provide a framework for future use, growth and development at the resort until 2060.

“Sunshine is the last ski area in the mountain national parks without site guidelines,” said Sheila Luey, acting superintendent in Banff National Park. “Mount Norquay, Marmot (in Jasper National Park) and Lake Louise all have their approved site guidelines.”

Luey said the guidelines allow carefully managed growth in a way that protects the environment, but continues to provide a great experience for visitors.

RELATED: Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

The draft plan, which is out for public comment until Sunday, would allow the resort to accommodate up to 8,500 visitors daily — up from 6,000. It would allow for development of more terrain, but also reduce the ski area’s 917-hectare lease by about 15 per cent to allow for wildlife movement and to protect ecological integrity.

Officials with the resort have started a campaign to criticize the draft.

“Our No. 1 concern is about creating a resort that’s balanced and able to be successful,” said Kendra Scurfield with Sunshine Village. “It’s about what’s best for the visitor and what’s best for the guest.”

The resort says that while the plan would allow for more visitors, it wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities to deal with them.

The guidelines do allow for additional infrastructure — including new ski runs, a new day lodge and a parkade.

Scurfield said the resort doesn’t agree with the idea of a parkade.

“It would look like you’re going into a major airport,” she said. “It’s only needed for about 50 days a year, so it would sit empty for over 310 days of the year. The parkade isn’t the right solution because it would block the flow of wildlife.”

She said the resort would rather build satellite parking lots along an access road — a proposal Parks Canada has included in its public input process.

“It’s quite exceptional for a leaseholder in a national park to propose development that’s off their leasehold,” said Luey. “Because that proposal involves using park land for their business purposes, it would actually in effect increase the overall size of the ski area, so we want to find out what Canadians think about that idea.”

RELATED: Wildfire in national park jumps B.C. highway, continues to grow

An environmental group suggests the ski resort consider adding more public transit.

“Right now, there’s a shuttle service that goes up there and it takes about 1,200 skiers per day,” said Peter Zimmerman of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “If you had a really good shuttle transportation service, you could probably negate the need for additional parking all together.”

The society also has concerns with increasing the number of visitors.

“Sunshine has a skier cap of 6,000 people,” he said. “If you read the site guidelines, they say that Sunshine has no … mechanism or system to track that or dissuade people when they get up to their ceiling.

“If you can’t comply with the existing approval condition of your licence or your lease, why should you be allowed to look at expanding?”

The draft plan also addresses summer use, particularly hiking in the popular Sunshine Meadows.

Zimmerman said that could be the most urgent issue for the environment.

“They are already being degraded to some degree,” he said. “Unless parks puts a science-based cap on that — on the number of visitors that can go — that’s going to continue to go downhill on us.

“I understand why people want to go up there. It’s beautiful, but at the end of the day we don’t want to love our parks to death.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rollovers near Ponoka keep crews busy

Wintry road conditions proved a struggle for motorists on the QE2 highway with several incidents

Plane crash-lands near Ponoka

The airplane had its tail ripped off and it ended right side up in a copse of trees east of Ponoka

Ponoka barrel racer looks to strong future

Shayna Weir’s climb to CFR promises more to come for the barrel racer

Naked man arrested for impaired driving

The man allegedly fled the scene of a collision wearing only a sheet. Plus other Ponoka RCMP briefs

Ponoka Legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Ponoka residents pack Legion hall during Remembrance Day

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Castor, Forestburg, coal workers get $257,644 to transition to low-carbon economy

Two transition centres will serve seven communities in the Battler River Region

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

PHOTO: Ponoka Stampede new suites construction begins

The Ponoka Stampede Wild West Suites construction has begun

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read