Admitted to taking down endangered trees: Lake Louise ski resort to be sentenced

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed

Admitted to taking down endangered trees: Lake Louise ski resort to be sentenced

A judge is to sentence a world-renowned Alberta ski resort today for cutting down endangered trees five years ago.

The Lake Louise resort in Banff National Park pleaded guilty last December to taking down a stand of trees, including some whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013.

The resort is to be sentenced in a Calgary courtroom on two charges — one under the Species At Risk Act and the other under the Canada National Parks Act.

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed. The Crown originally said 39 were removed, but the defence said the number was much lower.

The maximum fine under the Species At Risk Act for each tree destroyed is $300,000, while the maximum per tree is $250,000 under the National Parks Act.

“We’ll be relieved when it’s finally over,” said Dan Markham, communications director for Lake Louise Ski Resort.

READ MORE: B.C. ‘legacy tree’ policy under review after ancient fir logged

“Lake Louise is eager to move forward and initiate the remediation plan we’ve been working on in co-operation with Parks Canada.”

The long-lived, five-needle whitebark pine is native to high elevations and is threatened by invasive disease, fire and climate change. It is considered crucial because it provides food and habitat for animals and helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.

The tree exists at high elevations in western North America at or close to the treeline. It has been growing on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.

An agreed statement of facts says a trail crew, consisting of six employees including a supervisor, began maintenance in the summer of 2013 on Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski resort. The work involved cleaning up, repairing and erecting fences, and trimming and removing some trees.

The document says that in late September of that year, the workers cut down a number of trees, including endangered whitebark pine, without a permit.

The facts statement says it wasn’t until Aug. 12, 2014, that Parks Canada and resort personnel who were assessing the site for a new hiking trail discovered the endangered trees had been cut.

DNA analysis confirmed the trees were whitebark pine. The matter was turned over to Parks Canada for an investigation and charges were laid.

The court document says Lake Louise was co-operative during the investigation and has taken steps to prevent similar occurrences. It says the resort has also spent money on initiatives related to the whitebark pine, including extensive mapping of that tree in the area.

Bill Graveland, 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

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
STA plots another trail for Lunch Network

The network will consist of 6km of trail outside of Sparwood

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

District of Sparwood gateway banner. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood starts to envision new multi-purpose facility for district

The district is exploring options for a new facility in the district following community consultation

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

Most Read