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.

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

Just Posted

CHN, province reach ‘milestone’ tree cutting agreement, reducing annual cut by 13%

Haida Gwaii Management Council has determined new allowable annual cut of 804,000 cubic metres

Outage impacting south island GwaiiComm, Mascon customers

GwaiiTel aware of cable and internet outage; techs dispatched

VIDEO: B.C. artist filmed apocalyptic timelapse on Haida Gwaii

Tasha Lavdovsky footage symbolizes sea level rise; featured in Ora Cogan music video for ‘Sleeping’

‘Haida Modern’ doc on Robert Davidson to stream online in June

Award-winning documentary will premiere on Knowledge Network June 2

Some restaurants on Haida Gwaii hosting dine-in guests again

Queen B’s, Oceanview offering limited seating; barbershop in Queen Charlotte also reopened this week

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read