Lake Louise Eyes New Terrain

A ski resort proposal sparks debate before anything’s officially approved.
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Lake Louise Ski Resort, the largest resort in the Canadian Rockies, is working to expand its skiable terrain, and eventually nearly double its daily skier capacity, from 6,000 to 11,500.

But contrary to recent news reports, the Alberta ski resort doesn’t have the green light to start digging or building—yet.

Lake Louise Ski Resort has about 5,411 acres of land—all of which it leases from Banff National Park. If approved, the resort would increase skiable terrain by 1,151 acres, while reducing its overall footprint by 1,653 acres of leased land.

“The approved Site Guidelines provide the Lake Louise Ski Area with a blueprint for long-term growth, and connecting visitors to the unique heritage and sense of place in Banff National Park,” according to a Parks Canada press release.

But that’s all as of now.

“Every single project still has to go through a full environmental assessment, build a long-range plan on how it’s going to be developed, and, of course, provide a financial evaluation,” says Dan Markham, Lake Louise’s brand and communications director. “We can’t put a shovel in the ground or anything. It’s just an approval in terms of moving forward.”

In addition to the proposed land exchange, Lake Louise has a couple of other ideas: The first is to build a reservoir, so the mountain doesn’t have to use as much water from rivers and streams to make snow. The second is to build a new summer lodge at the top of the gondola to protect the lower mountain’s wildlife.

The main opposition seems to center around environmental issues. Eleven former Parks Canada managers and several conservation groups are among the loud public opposition.

Markham says it could take 10 to 25 years to make these proposals happen with hopes of having the reservoir and lodge approved in the next five.

But with all the national park red tape, no one truly knows what the future holds for Lake Louise.

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