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

A Shoppers Drug Mart employee in Prince Rupert has tested positive for COVID-19 the company confirmed on Oct. 26. The last day the employee worked was Oct. 17. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Employee of Prince Rupert Shoppers Drug Mart tests positive for COVID-19

No COVID-19 public exposures alerts issued by Northern Health Authority for Prince Rupert

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

North Coast BC NDP MLA Incumbent is seen with her wife Andrea Wilmot and their son Lua, as well as their dog Duncan. Preliminary results on election night Oct. 24 show Rice is in for a third term. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read