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

SD 52 fires superintendent

Dr. Irene LaPierre removed from position immediately.

Necropsy for Port Edward wolf is scheduled

Wolf sightings in Prince Rupert have increased

Wolf killed in Port Edward

Samples to be sent to lab. for testing

Why I relay

Cancer survivor learns to heal

Prince Rupert woman’s serious injuries after arrest spark police watchdog probe

Prince Rupert woman suffers serious injuries during arrest

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Most Read