Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, Mar. 16-A heated battle is taking place amid the winterscape of Banff and Jasper national parks. The government has launched a new set of guidelines to restrict the ski areas that operate in these parks, including Louise Ski Area, Sunshine Village and, Mount Norquay in Banff National Park and Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park.
The guidelines, put forth by Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and former secretary of state for parks Andy Mitchell last April, would limit skier capacity and also development at ski areas in Alberta’s national parks.
Last fall, 10 national and regional Canadian organizations, representing two million Canadians, have banded together and petitioned Prime Minister Jean Chretein.
“The overall economic impact would be disastrous, not only for these resorts but also for the entire tourism economy,” wrote Colin Chedore, president of the Canadian Ski Council.
However, there is also a great deal of support for the proposal from environmental groups and among local residents. The concern is that increasing recreational and commercial use will cause irreparable damage on the natural ecosystems of the parks.
The new guidelines, which could also shut the Lake Louise gondola to summer park visitors, have not yet been finalized. So far the government has not responded to Canadian Ski Council’s petition to review the guidelines.
For now the four ski areas remain in limbo. They are prohibited from undertaking any new improvements or developments–even from updating lifts without going through an involved approval process, which could take as long as five years.