The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes today’s potential venue announcement from the Calgary Olympic Bid Exploration Committee, which excludes the use of Lake Louise in Banff National Park as an Olympic venue. We applaud the Committee for listening to Albertans and Canadians, and for making the most appropriate decision for nature in our parks.
“While the Olympics are wonderful, nation-building events, the games are not appropriate in our national parks,” says Anne-Marie Syslak, Executive Director of the Southern Alberta Chapter of CPAWS.
As early as the 1960s an Olympic bid was proposed using Lake Louise as a ski venue. Canadians rallied against this bid with a clear message that the Olympic games, which lead to unsustainable development pressures, were not in the best interest of our national parks. This sentiment was echoed again before the bid for the 1988 Olympics. The lesson from the past 50 years is that any bid for Olympic games in Calgary should steer clear of Banff National Park, which is a beloved treasure that Canadians expect to be protected.
“Canadians expect that national parks, such as Banff, are protected from the scale of development the Olympic games would bring,” adds Alison Ronson, CPAWS’ National Director, Parks Program. “Thirty years on, the size and impact of the Olympics have increased significantly. Both PyeongChang and Sochi built venues in protected areas, to the detriment of their environment. This is not the kind of legacy we want in Canada’s parks – our most protected places.”
The potential venue plan proposes to hold downhill ski events at Nakiska in Kananaskis country, which was constructed specifically for the 1988 Calgary Olympics and which is still a world-class skiing venue. CPAWS has long opposed Olympic events and development in the national parks, but also believes that no Olympic proposal should have negative long-term impacts on any of our natural places.
“While Nakiska is a more appropriate venue, Kananaskis is also under a lot of pressure. Should the bid go forward, we will be working to ensure that the important ecosystems in Kananaskis are also protected from development pressures brought by the Olympic games,” notes Syslak. “This would include no expansion of the ski hill footprint, a proper transportation strategy, and no construction of additional facilities that would add pressure or damage to this important area.”
CPAWS appreciates the foresight of the Bid Exploration Committee in the safeguarding of nature in our national parks and hopes that we can work to ensure that all of Alberta’s natural areas are better protected as a result of a Calgary Olympic Bid.