CPAWS Responds to Lake Louise Expansion

Media Statement
September 13, 2019

Responding to Parks Canada’s final approval of a Long-Range Plan for the Lake Louise Ski Area in Banff National Park, CPAWS continues to be deeply concerned about the impact of this massive ski resort expansion on the park’s wildlife and wilderness.

“From the outset of this multi-year process, CPAWS has highlighted the lack of evidence that this plan will result in a substantial conservation gain, as Parks Canada and Lake Louise Ski Area are claiming,” said Alison Woodley, CPAWS’ Strategic Advisor. “At the end of the day this is a massive expansion of a ski resort in a national park and World Heritage Site where wildlife already face enormous pressures from overcrowding and development in their habitat.”

The Long Range Plan includes:

  • Increasing the capacity of the ski hill from 6,000 skiers per day to 9,000 skiers at one time, plus 1,000 non-skiers (40% increase); 
  • Expanding the area of skiable terrain from 551 hectares to 866 hectares (36% increase); 
  • More than doubling the built commercial space on the mountain from 6,751 square metres to 14,787 square metres in lodges and other buildings; and 
  • Almost doubling the parking area from 6 to 11 hectares.

While the ski area has reduced the total area of land in its lease and is pursuing several other mitigation measures, no evidence has been provided that these actions will offset the dramatically expanded development footprint, increased levels of use, water demands and intrusion of the Ski Area into legally protected Wilderness.

“This decision points to a systemic problem with the policy framework for managing ski areas in our national parks,” notes Woodley. “The management plans for Banff and Jasper National Parks are currently under review. CPAWS is calling on the next federal government to commit to no further expansion of the development footprint in these plans to tackle the ongoing problem of incremental development in these parks.”

Lake Louise is one of Canada’s most spectacular and renowned natural treasures in the heart of Banff National Park. By law, Parks Canada is required to put ecological integrity first in all aspects of park management. The Lake Louise Ski Area’s location within the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site means that Parks Canada also has a global responsibility to do all it can to protect the park’s natural values.

Alison Woodley, CPAWS Strategic Advisor