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Jasper National Park of Canada

Marmot Basin Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use

5.3 Growth Limits and Ski Area Resort Balancing

In the past, the management of ski areas has been controlled by facility design. Parks Canada used the capacity of ski area base lifts 3 as the basis for managing the capacity of the ski area.

This approach has limited value in managing ski areas in a manner that ensures ecological integrity or supports a quality national park skiing experience.

In the future, negotiated, permanent Growth Limits will be used as the basis for managing growth of the ski area. In developing Growth Limits, balancing of resort components within ecological and terrain limitations, is important.

Ski Area Management Guidelines

"The capacity of ski areas can increase but development will be permanently capped through Site Guidelines.

Growth Limits will be established for Ski Terrain, the Developed Area and commercial buildings. These limits will represent build out.

Within the Developed Area and the context of ensuring ecosystem functioning and terrain limitations, the balancing of ski area components can be considered. These components are Ski Terrain, commercial buildings, out-of-base lift capacity, total lift capacity and parking (including transportation shuttle systems).

Ski area development to the maximum Growth Limits can be considered if the principles and conditions set out in the approved Site Guidelines and Long-Range Plans are met."

Page 3 and 4, Ski Area Management Guidelines, Minister of Environment, December 7, 2006


  • Establish negotiated, permanent Growth Limits.
  • Allow the 'balancing' of facilities and services within Growth Limits and physical, infrastructure and environmental constraints.

Existing Situation

  • The carrying capacity identified in the document Marmot Basin Ski Area Long Range Plan Proposals, 1981 was 6,500 skiers per day. A peak day at Marmot is 5,400 skiers. For the last five years, the average peak day has been 4,045 skiers and has been reached seven times over the last three years. During the same five-year period, the average weekday had 1,049 skiers/day and the average weekend had 1,927 skiers/day.
  • Ski Terrain within the existing Developed Area is 218 hectares, which can accommodate 5,230 to 5,600 skiers per day.
  • Existing commercial space is 4,379 m2, which can comfortably serve 3,225 skiers per day.
  • Out-of-base capacity is 5,182 persons/hour; total lift capacity is 4,600 skiers per day; and parking capacity is 4,548 skiers (including shuttle services).
  • In general terms the existing ski area facilities are in balance for most days of the year. For the average peak day there is sufficient capacity for lifts, terrain and parking but insufficient capacity for commercial space to adequately serve skiers.
  • In order to remain competitive and financially viable, Marmot Basin feels it is essential to expand ski terrain and modernize and adjust its facilities in order to attract more skiers. To be successful in the long term, Marmot Basin also feels it is necessary to be in a position to support 6,500 skiers per day. This will necessitate a re-balancing of resort components. Parks Canada has reviewed this potential level of activity and is supportive of a design capacity of 6,500 skiers per day as a basis for advancing specific ski area proposals. The design capacity of the ski area was determined through an analysis of ecological considerations, ski terrain capabilities and limitations, industry standards and compatibility with the operator's goals. Key ecological considerations regarding the ecological management parameters for wildlife (e.g. ensuring new runs, maximum run width, minimum distance between runs, maintaining a minimum forest cover etc) were all considered in determining the design capacity. Industry standards regarding the relationship of design capacity to the frequency of busy days, amount of skier service space per skier, skier density on ski terrain, lift wait times and the ratio of parking lot size to the number of skiers and potential transportation systems were also considered.

Site Guidelines

5.3.1 Subject to advancing proposals that respond to the ecological parameters, a design capacity of 6,500 skiers per day will be the basis for reviewing future development proposals.

5.3.2 New development at Marmot Basin will be limited. The chart below indicates the negotiated permanent Growth Limits for the ski area. These Growth Limits cannot be exceeded. These limits are based upon:

  • The Ski Area Management Guidelines;
  • Ecological considerations;
  • Supporting an economical viable ski area;
  • Enhancing visitor experience;
  • A future design capacity of 6,500 skiers per day; and
  • Industry standards of balancing resort components.
Existing Situation Change Permanent Growth Limit (future total)
Developed Area 361 ha 76 ha 437 ha
Ski Terrain 218 ha 57 ha 275 ha
Commercial Space 4,379 m 2 1,891 m 2 6,270 m 2

5.3.3 Development that is in balance with the Growth Limits will be considered. Proposals that are aimed at achieving the design capacity of 6,500 and related balancing of ski terrain, commercial space, out-of-base lift capacity, total lift capacity and parking will be considered subject to: terrain limitations; achieving the ecological management parameters; and consistency with the Growth Limits. Proposals that would create or exacerbate imbalances beyond supporting 6,500 skiers will not be considered. The negotiated Growth Limits represent the maximum potential build-out for Marmot Basin.

3 Out-of-base capacity is the number of skiers per hour that can be carried by lifts originating at the ski area base.

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