Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan

The Lake Louise Ski Area is developing a Long-Range Plan to guide environmental, guest experience and educational initiatives.

Our current plan, nearly four decades old, dates back to 1981. It is time to take another look, revise and update. The new plan focuses on enhancing terrain, facilities and services for all visitors, during all seasons, and will lead to a better visitor experience. It will allow us to continue to protect local sensitive areas and species, while advancing environmental awareness and conservation goals for future generations. Everyone will be able to discover and connect with our unique natural and cultural

The Lake Louise Ski Area is developing a Long-Range Plan to guide environmental, guest experience and educational initiatives.

Our current plan, nearly four decades old, dates back to 1981. It is time to take another look, revise and update. The new plan focuses on enhancing terrain, facilities and services for all visitors, during all seasons, and will lead to a better visitor experience. It will allow us to continue to protect local sensitive areas and species, while advancing environmental awareness and conservation goals for future generations. Everyone will be able to discover and connect with our unique natural and cultural heritage in more memorable and authentic ways.

Lake Louise has been welcoming visitors since the late 1800s. The first ski lodge was built in 1930 and lift access began in 1952. Today, the Lake Louise Ski Area is internationally-renowned for alpine enjoyment, appreciation and education. From recreational enthusiasts, to young, grass roots and international athletes, to people looking to experience breathtaking vistas and nature at its finest, we welcome guests from across Canada and around the world to enjoy the area while respecting local values, the environment and wildlife. Visitors to Banff National Park are important to the provincial and federal economies, while protection of and awareness about precious natural and cultural heritage remains at the fore.

The new Long-Range Plan will direct all new projects during the next 10 to 15 years within the context of all future development at the ski area, as outlined in Parks Canada’s 2015 Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines. It gives a forever blueprint to determine how we can improve upon aspects of the current operations from a visitor experience and environmental perspective, responsibly.

Focus of the Long-Range Plan

In our unique setting in Banff National Park, we are committed to being a world-leading environmental steward and centre for natural and cultural appreciation. That’s why, even with more than 97 percent of Banff National Park already protected from any future development, our plans include a significant leasehold reduction, a suite of other environmental gains and expanding our interpretive programming.

While we do want to upgrade our terrain and infrastructure within a smaller foot print so that people can enjoy our alpine environment meaningfully, any changes will make sure we protect the area’s unique wildlife, wilderness, heritage and Banff National Park Values.

At the direction of Parks Canada, we are putting forward this Long-Range Plan, which must meet with the detailed parameters in the 2015 Lake Louise Ski Area Site Area Guidelines and accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment. Those documents were drafted by Parks Canada and signed by the CEO of Parks Canada in August 2015.

What’s in our proposal?

From significant environmental gains, to new chairlifts and upgrades to existing chairlifts, to new day lodges and better parking capacity and traffic flow management, our proposed Long-Range Plan is about enhancing our ability to welcome people while protecting our unique culture, wilderness and heritage resources. To do that, we can’t just start making new ski runs and building new facilities without holistic thought. For example, by changing the way we use the land for snow sports, we can develop new terrain in one area and return other parts of the ski area back to wilderness designation.

Our current lease is 2,190 hectares. We are proposing a reduced lease area of 1,162 hectares, plus winter-only Licences of Occupation for West Bowl and Hidden Bowl (374 hectares, combined), as well as operational Licences of Occupation for an additional 130.62 hectares for operational activities such as avalanche control and utilities. The end result would be a reduction of our leasehold by almost half and a 30 per cent reduction of total land available for limited snow sports. Approximately 1,000 hectares of our current lease, or about the size of 800 Canadian football fields of land, will be protected from future development.

Find our more and let us know what you think

Have a look at the topics below to find out more. Detailed information about our proposed plan for information about environmental gains, proposed new chairlifts, ski terrain and lodges, water, wildlife, slope and vegetation management, safety improvements and improved traffic management and parking, along with other important considerations, are available in our full Long-Range Plan and the accompanying Detailed Impact Analysis (DIA), completed by Golder and Associates. Supplemental plans and strategies are all available in our Document Library.

We are looking for your feedback on our plans through this website and through in-person open houses. All comments and questions that we receive through this site and our in-person engagement activities will be provided in full to Parks Canada for consideration in its decision-making process. If you would prefer to provide your feedback directly to Parks Canada, you may send comments to pc.lakelouise-opinion.pc@canada.ca or visit their website at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/info/gestion-management/tor-dia-2019

Do you have a question for us about the LRP or the planning process?

Ask us here and we'll get back to you!

Q&A

  • Will reusable cups, dishes and cutlery be implemented at all Lake Louise Ski area restaurant locations?

    connie atkinson asked 22 days ago

    This past season LLSA initiated a single use audit, started using reusable glasses and paper straws in our food & beverage outlets and where reusable cutlery is not an option, wooden cutlery has replaced plastic. Several of our food service outlets also use reusable baskets. These are just parts of an ongoing process to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    We have also partially implemented reusable plates at specific times in the cafeteria, however we have limited kitchen space that does not allow full implementation of reusable cutlery and dishes. We lack space for extra dishwashers that were not contemplated decades ago when these spaces were built. Without approval of the proposed LRP, we cannot build additional space to allow for washing more reusables, but it will be among the first projects of the LRP and we are eager to be able to implement this.

  • What is the thought process regarding the new Summit lift? The current lift serves to naturally manage the skill level of the skiers entering the advanced terrain as well as the volume of skiers accessing this area making it some of the best terrain the resort has to offer. Easier accessibility is likely to cause the degradation of the skiing experience and likely see less skilled skiers injuring themselves in terrain where they would have been unlikely to access with the current lifts.

    Rob asked about 1 month ago

    The Summit Platter dates back to 1977. It is still a favourite for some of our most loyal guests. The terrain appeals to all who love a high-alpine, adrenaline-inducing, natural experience. A great deal of thought has gone into, and will continue to go into, the Summit experience so it can remain unspoiled and enjoyable — just better.

    Upgraded Lift:

    Anticipating the current Summit Platter’s end of life, a replacement and realignment is proposed. The new lift is not suggested as a means to accommodate a lot of new skiers. Summit will still be a low-density experience. The uphill capacity would be carefully executed to ensure the downhill capacity remains balanced — not much different than now.

    The current situation is that on some days, the lift doesn’t run at capacity and on many days, there are larger line-ups — out of place at the Lake Louise Ski Area. An uncrowded, National Park experience is one we are keen to preserve and improve upon.

    Challenges to address include the age of the lift, guest comfort on the ascent and a difficult to maintain track. Many tell us it is too hard to balance on a 40-year old platter and navigate a sometimes icy and uneven track to reach the peak. We hear this from snowboarders and youth/smaller users, especially. This presents situations where people could fall on the way up, especially on Headwall. Safety considerations are a key driver of the proposed replacement of Summit Platter with a chairlift.

    Given the above, and with current and future advances in lift technologies, replacing the platter with another platter is impractical.

    The proposed new alignment would mean a shorter ride up than the current lift, and in an area that is not subject to considerations to do with wind/wind closures.

    Better Ski Experience:

    To ensure a safe and low-density ski experience remains, we would carefully choose the type of lift at the project level. On an ongoing basis, we would use signage and staff at the bottom to ensure that only guests with appropriate abilities for the terrain served are the ones riding the lift. At the top, signage would highlight Skyline, an existing blue run, and as the easiest way down.

    The new lift would also serve much more terrain than it does now. No new development is proposed for West Bowl (no new lifts or snowmaking, and no grooming). However, the new ski terrain, along with associated minor glading and safety improvements, would create a fantastic experience. The frontside of Summit without the platter in the way, as it is now, would be another new and excellent experience. There would be more than enough new terrain to accommodate any increased ridership.

    For experts who enjoy summit laps, the way back up would be quicker and easier. The new proposed top terminal would mean users would not have to hike to access Boomerang and associated runs. After riding back up Paradise chairlift, it would be faster to the top on the new lift. Frontside laps would be just as efficient.

    Meanwhile, those slightly less advanced are predicted to take the long way down, and then proceed back up the new Juniper Lift and/or Top of the World to get back to the new Summit Lift. This would be a new and exceptional experience as well.

    Improved Viewscapes and Aesthetics:

    Importantly, the proposed new lift alignment would substantially benefit the National Park aesthetic. Maintaining pristine and natural viewscapes is a goal of the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines, reaffirmed in the Terms of Reference for the Direct Impact Assessment, and important to our vision and the Banff National Park ‘sense-of-place,’ which is wild and pristine.

  • Will walking be the only way a person could go from P4 to the lodge for tickets or lifts? It is already a long walk and if it is expanded it will be longer.

    deweysmith asked about 1 month ago

    To help ensure that guests have a comfortable experience, the Lake Louise Ski Area will offer
    guests a shuttle service from the furthest parking lots, P3 and P4, and may install a people mover lift system from parking lots P3 and P4 to the skier service lodges. A potential people mover Telecord lift has been included in the design between parking lots P3 and P4. This people mover lift could provide a convenient way for guests to access the ski lifts and skier service lodges from parking stalls that are currently located outside of comfortable walking distance, such as Parking Lot P4.

    At the beginning of the day, skiers from Parking Lots P3 and P4 can choose to ride the Telecord people mover lift to the main snow front, take a shuttle service or alternatively, they can walk across a new pedestrian bridge, put on their skis and then slide down to the new Lower Juniper
    Chair or the existing Glacier Express to stage up the mountain. At the end of the day, guests parked in Lots P3 and P4 can ski down the Lower Juniper slopes to the pedestrian bridge, take off their skis and have a short walk to parking lots P3 or P4.

  • Has the overflow parking option been discussed? In the summer the Lake Louise overflow is used and people are transported to the lake via bus. The same could be used for skiers; park in the overflow and bus to the drop off point. Buses running every 15 min???

    deweysmith asked about 1 month ago

    We propose a safer, more efficient and memorable arrival, departure and parking experience, with reduced traffic congestion and improved conditions for wildlife.

    We have found ways to increase the total parking capacity and meet future needs by reconfiguring existing parking areas within the current base area, re-designing traffic flows, adding more drop-off points and improving the central drop-off area.

    The ski area plans a phased approach to improvements. First, simply by re-designing existing parking areas 2, 3 and 4, the majority of additional needs can be met. 

    Most important, parking along Whitehorn Drive would be eliminated in consideration of the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor, which is bisected by the road. And, our plan includes construction of a wildlife crossing structure (underpass) for Whitehorn Drive, as well as relocation of the Fish Creek Road and trailhead parking area. This will allow Parks Canada to remove the lower portion of the existing Fish Creek access road, to further benefit the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor.

  • Lake Louis has been steadily increasing their day passes year over year. It has slowly begun to price itself out of being a local place to ski for those regular skiers. With all the projected plans, what would be the expected ticket price when the expansion is complete?

    Allison334 asked about 1 month ago

    The Lake Louise Ski Resort is committed to keeping skiing as affordable as possible. If we’re fortunate enough to have our Long-Range Plan approved and move forward with these improvements, we will continue to offer an affordable ski and snowboard experience - especially to our regulars and newcomers to the sport. Many factors go into pricing. It’s inevitable that prices rise but we’ll work hard to ensure that less expensive options are available, like our great Season Pass prices, the Lake Louise Plus discount cards, discounted packages online and tickets at Costco. Finding ways to make the winter, and summer, experience at Lake Louise competitive and affordable is in everyone’s best interest.

  • Why is there not gondola access from Lake Louise village to the Ski Area like there once was? There would be less implications from vehicle and bus traffic by hotel guests and locals.

    connie atkinson asked 22 days ago

    Our LRP is focused on projects inside the Lake Louise Ski Area leasehold only. The potential for a gondola from the Lake Louise village to the resort extends beyond our leasehold involving many more parties than just LLSA, and is thus outside of the scope of this LRP.