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

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Team Alberta adds nine medals on day two of competition at Canada Winter Games

Team Alberta had a solid day at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

PHOTOS: Canada Games action from the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

Wheelchair basketball, short-track speedskating draw large crowds

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Jason Kenney pledges education revamp if UCP wins power in Alberta

Kenney has said the full United Conservative platform will be rolled out during the campaign

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

Most Read