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Jasper National Park of Canada

Marmot Basin Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use

1.0 Introduction

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.

Jasper National Park, along with Banff, Kootenay and Yoho national parks and three provincial parks in British Columbia, make up the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain World Heritage Site.

Marmot Basin is the only ski area in Jasper National Park, but one of four in the mountain national parks. Parks Canada supports a healthy and viable ski industry within the context of achieving its mandate. A carefully planned and managed ski area can address the needs of skiers, the ski area and the environment and complement the broader strategies of the park. The Jasper National Park Management Plan confirms downhill skiing as an acceptable activity.

"Parks Canada's primary goal for the management of ski areas is to achieve long term land use certainty that:

  • Ensures ecological integrity will be maintained or restored;
  • Contributes to facilitating memorable national park visitor experiences and educational opportunities; and
  • Provides ski area operators with clear parameters for business planning in support of an economically healthy operation.

Page 1, Ski Area Management Guidelines , Minister of Environment, December 7, 2006

1.1 Ski Area Management Guidelines

Ski Area Management Guidelines (See Appendix 1) were established in 2000 to guide the development of new Long-Range Plans. In order to facilitate improvements to ecological integrity, reflect the full scope of Parks Canada's mandate and address the concerns of communities, ski areas, tourism associations and environmental groups, the Minister of Environment announced refinements to the Guidelines in December 2006. Through out these Site Guidelines, the Ski Area Management Guidelines 1 are referenced to provide context. These quotes are highlighted in a shaded box for ease in use.

1.2 Site Guidelines

"Based on the Ski Area Management Guidelines, ski area specific Site Guidelines outline what development and use may be permitted, Growth Limits, the broad parameters for the type, nature and location of development and use and the approaches to enhance the character of the ski area's operation to reflect its location in a national park and World Heritage Site. They provide the direction for the preparation of Long-Range Plans. Site Guidelines are intended to guide development and use for the foreseeable future."

Page 9, Ski Area Management Guidelines , Minister of Environment, December 7, 2006.

The Site Guidelines outline the scope, nature and location of development and use changes that will be considered and under what conditions. The Site Guidelines and associated strategic environmental assessment will not be used to approve projects or changes in use. However, they are a reflection of the application of the Ski Area Management Guidelines to Marmot Basin and Parks Canada's intent. The Site Guidelines are intended to provide land use certainty as Long-Range Plans are developed. Decisions on projects and changes in use will be made through Long-Range Plans and related application of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).

These Site Guidelines were developed based on a list of potential future initiatives that Marmot Basin indicated it might wish to pursue at some time in the future if possible. Parks Canada reviewed the list to determine which of the potential projects were consistent with the Ski Area Management Guidelines and which ones were not. Those that were consistent with the guidelines are included in these Site Guidelines as possible future initiatives that the ski hill could advance proposals for should they decide to do so. The Site Guidelines also stipulate the conditions that must be met before Parks Canada will consider the potential future projects. If a proposal is consistent with the Site Guidelines, clearly responds to the conditions in these Site Guidelines and is advanced through a Long-Range Plan and associated application of the CEAA, then it will be supported by Parks Canada.

In specific, limited circumstances, the Ski Area Management Guidelines allow some initiatives to be considered before a Long-Range Plan is in place ( Ski Area Management Guidelines , page 7 and 8). In these cases, the environmental effects of potential initiatives will be evaluated through the environmental screening process in compliance with the requirements of the CEAA.

The Site Guidelines are a site-specific policy direction that provides the guide rails for Marmot Basin's preparation of Long-Range Plans. They reflect the Ski Area Management Guidelines and offer certainty about land use. The Site Guidelines and associated strategic environmental assessment do not consider any specific development proposals and may not be used as instruments with which to approve projects or changes in use.

The direction in these Site Guidelines provides a framework for Marmot Basin to prepare one or more Long-Range Plans. The duration of each plan will depend on Marmot Basin's unique circumstances and planning horizon. In the future, it is conceivable that Marmot Basin may wish to advance potential initiatives that have not been foreseen by the operator or contemplated by these Site Guidelines. These may be considered if they are consistent with the intent of the Ski Area Management Guidelines , the Site Guidelines and if they are advanced through a Long-Range Plan and application of the CEAA.

1.3 Stakeholder and Public Consultation

In preparing the 2006 Ski Area Management Guidelines , several opportunities were provided to a broad range of stakeholders and ski area operators to comment on a preliminary draft of the guidelines. This input played a major role in shaping the final Guidelines that were announced by the Minister of Environment in December 2006. Environmental groups voiced "cautious optimism" with the revised Guidelines, provided that Parks Canada diligently applied them and that they result in the development of Long-Range Plans.

Following the release of the Ski Area Management Guidelines , Parks Canada commenced the development of these Site Guidelines in collaboration with Marmot Basin. In addition, Parks Canada invited and considered input from a broad range of organizations, individuals and experts who are interested in the future of Marmot Basin and Jasper National Park. Public open houses were held in Jasper and Edmonton and attracted more than 100 people. Summary documents were made available at the open houses and were also posted on the Parks Canada website to facilitate broader public comment. The views of community leaders, the ski area, Parks Canada specialists, environmental organizations, other stakeholders and interested individuals have all influenced the concepts and approaches that are presented in these Site Guidelines.

Public views concerning the draft Marmot Basin Site Guidelines and draft strategic environmental assessment were mixed. While there was general support for establishing limits to growth, advancing environmental stewardship and education initiatives, views on other aspects were polarized. Perspectives ranged from those respondents who fully supported the draft guidelines to those who challenged key concepts, in particular initiatives related to achieving substantial environmental gain. Parks Canada has carefully considered these views in finalizing the Site Guidelines to ensure that they reflect the principles and direction of the Ski Area Management Guidelines .

Notwithstanding the consultations that have occurred throughout the process to date, substantial additional consultation opportunities will also be provided to stakeholders and the general public during the long-range planning process and the associated application of the CEAA.

1.4 Ski Area Planning and Development Process

There are four major steps in the planning and development process for ski areas. These are: preparation of a vision, preparation of Site Guidelines, preparation of a Long-Range Plan and associated Comprehensive Study and Project Permitting. The vision outlines concepts and initiatives that can be considered in the planning process; the Site Guidelines outline permanent growth limits and provide site specific direction for development and use; and the Long-Range Plan describes the group of project proposals, consistent with the direction in the Site Guidelines, that the ski area wishes to advance in a 5 to 15 year time frame. Once a Long-Range Plan is implemented, a subsequent Long-Range Plan can be prepared based on the Site Guidelines to advance another group of projects (this process is repeated until Marmot Basin reaches build out as defined by the permanent, negotiated limits to growth). Elements of a previous approved plan that have not been implemented, can be carried forwarded to the permitting stage at any time. An overview of the process is provided in Appendix 2.

1 The complete Ski Area Management Guidelines area located in Appendix 1.

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