Lake Louise ski resort to appeal $2.1M fine for chopping down endangered trees

Two charges were laid under the Species at Risk Act and the Canada National Parks Act

The Lake Louise Ski Area was fined $2.1 million on November 30 for unlawfully removing and destroying 140 trees, including 39 endangered whitebark pines.

The investigation began in 2014, when Parks Canada park wardens received a report that whitebark pine trees, listed as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act, had been cut down at the ski area. Their inspection showed that 140 trees, including 39 whitebark pines, had been unlawfully removed and destroyed on the ski area leasehold.

The Lake Louise Ski Area pleaded guilty in the Provincial Court of Alberta in December 2017. The Lake Louise Ski Area was convicted for two charges under the Species at Risk Act and the Canada National Parks Act for the removal and destruction of the trees and damage and destruction of flora in a national park without an appropriate permit.

Lake Louise Ski Area brand and communications director Dan Markham said they did not expect the ruling and the hefty fine.

“We were quite surprised with the amount, which seemed considerably higher than precedents,” he said. “We were also very surprised for the reasons for the decision from the judge today.”

In court, Markham says it was clearly defined and acknowledged by the prosecution that there was no impact to the whitebark pine population, and he says the Lake Louise Ski Area will be putting in an application for an appeal as quickly as possible.

“It was determined by our experts and admitted by the prosecution that there was zero impact on the whitebark pine population,” he said.

The $2.1 million the Lake Louise Ski Area has been fined is intended to be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund, which is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The fund supports projects led by non-governmental organizations, universities and academic institutions, Indigenous groups, and provincial, territorial, and municipal governments.

The whitebark pine is listed as endangered in the Species at Risk Act, and by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Whitebark pine is an essential tree species in the high elevation forest ecosystems of the Rocky and Columbia Mountain chains. It is found in seven of Canada’s national parks. The survival of the whitebark pine has been threatened by the combined effects of long-term fire suppression, climate change, mountain pine beetle outbreaks, and white pine blister rust, which is a disease.

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

Just Posted

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and the Green party’s Sonia Furstenau criticized John Horgan’s decision

RCMP issue two $2,300 COVID fines at same Metro Vancouver vacation rental within 24 hours

Cpl. Mike Kalanj said it was ‘quite frankly appalling’ to see parties breaking COVID-19 rules

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

Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

Elections BC has worked with the provincial health office to determine safety protocols for voting

B.C. privacy commissioner will hear First Nations complaints about COVID

The hearing will rely on written submissions from the Indigenous governments as well as the Ministry of Health

Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

Nearly 90 per cent felt wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19

Paper towel in short supply as people stay home, clean more, industry leader says

While toilet paper consumption has returned to normal levels, paper towel sales continue to outpace pre-COVID levels

Most Read