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

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

Tour recognizes Prince Rupert’s rich labour history

Epic story of the Battle of Kelly’s Cut put Rupert on the labour radar

Rio Tinto responds to U.S. aluminum import tariffs

The tariffs were imposed by President Donald Trump Aug. 6

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Oily rain runoff down the drain causes concern for Prince Rupert residents

Immediate action taken to alleviate any concerns, road paving contractor said.

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to humanitarian organizations, not the Lebanese government

University of Victoria, rowing coach sued over alleged ‘fat shaming’ and verbal abuse

Lawsuit says Barney Williams subjected coxswain Lily Copeland to offensive and belittling language

1 year since a B.C. teen died in a skate park, his family still waiting for charges

Carson Crimeni’s final moments were broadcast on social media

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read