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Input sought on proposed upgrades at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Calgarians who want to weigh in on proposed upgrades at the Lake Louise Ski Resort are invited to an open house Thursday at Winsport.
The proposed upgrades will see the parking area expanded and eight new chairlifts added, along with new day lodges at the top and base of the mountain as part of a new, long-range plan.
The current plan was developed in 1981.
Lake Louise officials are also hoping to add runs in areas currently deemed off-limits.
In exchange, the resort will give up about 1,000 hectares of land from its current 2,190-hectare lease.
“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,” the resort said in an update posted to its website.
“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.”
Thursday’s event is part of a 60-day consultation period which kicked off April 15 and runs until June 13. Open houses were also held Tuesday in Lake Louise and Wednesday in Banff.
All public comments will be forwarded to the resort and Parks Canada.
“Ecological integrity is Parks Canada’s first priority in decision making and the Agency is committed to protecting the natural environment of the Lake Louise Ski Area, while providing exceptional visitor experience opportunities,” said Lesley Matheson, a partnering and engagement officer with Parks Canada in an emailed statement.
Lou Rosenfeld, owner of Lou's Performance Centre, says the restructing plan at Lake Louise is a great idea for everyone involved.
"What I like about what they’re proposing makes the ski area a better place for skiers. There’s more terrain, there’s more diverse terrain, there’s more facilities for everybody when it’s time to eat or time to get inside and rest."
He says the skiing in the area brings thousands and thousands of people into the park every year and that means a lot of money for the park too. Rosenfeld says the land in the plan is also perfect for skiers.
"The terrain they’re talking about, for instance West Bow, is right next door to terrain I already ski," he says. "If I ski it now; there’s no ski patrol, it’s not avalanche controlled, so I’m skiing it at my own risk. People ski it all the time. Now it just becomes part of the ski area so they get to control it and protect everybody and it becomes a better, safer environment for everyone."
The best part about the process has been the consultation process, Rosenfeld says.
"I went to the open house a year and a half ago and now there’s been consistent consultations. They seem to be working closely with Parks and they’re working closely with the public to get all points of view and get this thing so well focused that I think everyone comes out happy and everybody’s going to come out with a really workable plan."
Thursday’s open house gets underway at 5 p.m. in the Markin MacPhail Centre at Winsport.
The federal minister of environment has the final say on the proposed changes.
Last year, Lake Louise was fined $2.1 million after pleading guilty under the Species at Risk Act to cutting down a stand of protected trees, including whitebark pine, along a run in 2013.
The resort has until November to pay the fine, however officials are appealing the sentence.