Overview of Ecological Protection and Environmental Assessment Process

The proposed Long-Range Plan for the Lake Louise Ski Area will direct our development and environmental protection and education strategies for the next 10 to 15 years. The ski area would be smaller in size, with a reduced leasehold and permanent limits to growth established. Plans follow the 2015 Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use. Developed by Parks Canada, these guidelines describe the nature and scope of projects allowed for consideration, and set strict environmental protection parameters. These are comprehensively outlined in the accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment. Any activities we undertake – from new chairlifts and lodges to parking lot improvements – must be done in accordance with these two documents and in ways that protect valued ecological resources and minimize environmental impacts.

As a key part of the Long-Range Plan, Golder and Associates prepared a Detailed Impact Analysis (DIA). A Detailed Impact Analysis is the most comprehensive level of impact assessment in the Parks Canada framework. This extensive document evaluates valued components and the impact of each of our proposed projects and environmental management strategies on cultural and natural resources and visitor experience. The scope and topics to be covered by the DIA were set out by Parks Canada in a Terms of Reference that was issued on August 1, 2018 following public consultation. As we finalize the Long-Range Plan and seek approval from Parks Canada, the DIA is an important tool to inform Parks Canada’s decision-making and to keep environmental protection at the forefront of any ski area changes.

We are committed to being responsible environmental stewards and a world-leading centre for natural and cultural education and interpretation. That’s why documents such as Parks Canada’s Site Guidelines, the Strategic Environmental Assessment and the DIA are important to our planning – they give us clear direction in terms of allowable future commercial development and visitor opportunities.

The Lake Louise Ski Area Site Area Guidelines contain four key proposals that can be considered substantial environmental gains. These are listed below and more information about each topic can be found on this website.

  • Removal of Purple and Wolverine Bowl lands from the ski area lease. These lands have long been identified by Parks Canada as important wildlife habitat.
  • Removal of land associated with the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor from the ski area. The addition of these lands to the protected area of the park will improve wildlife movement through these areas.
  • Relocation of summer use to improve grizzly bear habitat. Moving summer season sightseeing and hiking to the upper ridge of Mount Whitehorn will relocate visitors and operational use away from mid-mountain summer grizzly bear habitat.
  • Significant reduction of water withdrawal during low flows from the Pipestone River and Corral Creek. High-volume water withdrawal from the Pipestone River in the fall for snowmaking during low flow will be reduced with the introduction of reservoirs to be filled during high flow. These measures will protect listed Species at Risk (species of concern), including Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout.

Following the conclusion of our engagement program, we will submit our final Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis to Parks Canada for approval in spring 2019.

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