Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan Detailed Impact Analysis
The Lake Louise Ski Area is currently preparing a Long-Range Plan to guide future development and use at the ski area in Banff National Park in accordance with the 2015 Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use approved by Parks Canada. Parks Canada has determined that a detailed impact analysis of this plan is required. A Terms of Reference for this analysis has been prepared by Parks Canada. The Terms of Reference describes the expectations and parameters for the completion of the impact assessment, including an outline of the consultation process.
The projects proposed in the Long-Range Plan are consistent with the approved Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use. The scope of the proposed Long-Range Plan includes the addition of new ski lifts; development of new ski terrain; construction of new and expanded lodges and a warming hut; construction of an operations and maintenance building near Temple Lodge; creation of two water storage reservoirs; expanded and re-designed parking areas; and the development of non-skier winter activities such as tubing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing.
A draft version of the Terms of Reference for the Detailed Impact Analysis was posted on this website on April 30, and the public was invited to provide comments during a 30-day consultation period. A summary of the comments received is provided below. Parks Canada considered these comments carefully and amended the draft document where appropriate to reflect the input received.
The Terms of Reference will guide the development of the Detailed Impact Analysis being prepared by the Lake Louise Ski Area as part of their Long Range Plan project. Once completed, the draft Detailed Impact Analysis will be posted on this website for a 60-day public comment period.
For more information on the proposed Long-Range Plan please visit the Lake Louise Ski Area’s project website.
Q. What is the Lake Louise Ski Area Long-Range Plan?
A. A Long-Range Plan is a document prepared by the ski area that describes the specific project proposals, or change-in-use proposals, that a ski area aspires to implement over a specified period of time (anticipated to be from 5 to15 years). The Long-Range Plan must be consistent with the approved Site Guidelines.
The Long-Range Plan is subject to an Indigenous and public participation review and an environmental assessment consistent with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 and Parks Canada policy. Each Long-Range Plan must be approved by the Minister responsible for Parks Canada prior to plan implementation.
Following the approval of a Long-Range Plan, the ski area can advance specific projects for development approval.
The ski area can prepare any number of Long-Range Plans (and associated environmental assessments), based on the Site Guidelines, until maximum build-out is reached, as defined by the permanent, negotiated growth limits of the Site Guidelines.
Q. What is included in the draft Terms of Reference? What do the Terms of Reference do?
A. The Terms of Reference describes Parks Canada’s expectations and parameters for the completion of the impact assessment, including an outline of the proposed consultation process. Parks Canada has determined that a detailed impact analysis of the Lake Louise Ski Area Long Range Plan is required.
Q. What are the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines?
A. The Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines, developed by Parks Canada in collaboration with the Lake Louise Ski Area, are an important achievement in creating long term certainty for Banff National Park and the Lake Louise Ski Area. The site guidelines include major gains in conservation, visitor experience and education for one of Canada’s most iconic winter destinations.
The Site Guidelines provide the Lake Louise Ski Area with a blueprint for potential long-term growth, building on their already successful summer and winter programs, and connecting visitors to the unique heritage and sense of place in Banff National Park.
Q. What is the Status of Planning at the Lake Louise Ski Area?
A. Lake Louise Ski Area is in the process of preparing their first Long-Range Plan under the 2015 Site Guidelines. It is anticipated that the ski area will complete a draft Long-Range Plan and impact assessment by late 2018. Public consultation on the Long-Range Plan is expected to occur in 2019.
On April 30, the draft Terms of Reference for the detailed impact analysis, which will be completed as part of the LLSA Long-Range Plan, were made available for public comment for a period of 30 days. A summary of the comments received has been prepared. Parks Canada considered these comments carefully and amended the draft document where appropriate to reflect the input received.
Q. What is Parks Canada’s role in the public consultation process?
A. Parks Canada has prepared a Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Detailed Impact Analysis and this has been issued to the Lake Louise Ski Area to guide their work on the impact assessment.
The Lake Louise Ski Area will coordinate the consultation activities on the Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis. The drafts will be available for public comment for a period of 60 days, anticipated to occur in the winter of 2019. All comments provided will be directed to both Parks Canada and the Lake Louise Ski Area. Parks Canada will consider all input received on the Detailed Impact Analysis and prepare a summary of comments, which will be shared publicly. Parks Canada will then provide direction to the Lake Louise Ski Area for any required changes or additions to the impact assessment. The ski area will also consider all comments on the Long-Range Plan and prepare a summary of comments along with their response.
At the conclusion of the consultation process, and upon submission of a final Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis, Parks Canada will make a determination regarding the Detailed Impact Analysis, followed by a recommendation to the Minister regarding the Long-Range Plan.
Q. What is currently proposed in the Long-Range Plan?
A. A number of projects are proposed, all of which are consistent with the Site Guidelines and include a significant reduction of the ski area’s lease. Projects proposed include:
- Construction of water reservoirs at the Old Gondola Base adjacent to the Pipestone River, and near Corral Creek in the Temple area
- Expansion of Temple Lodge
- New lifts and ski terrain on Richardson's Ridge
- New mountain top lodge on Eagle Ridge
- New day lodge in the base area
- New lifts and ski terrain on the front-side of Whitehorn Mountain
- New warming hut near the upper terminal of Top-of-the-World lift
- Development of access and egress routes in West Bowl
- Redevelopment of parking areas at the base
Q. Where can I learn more?
A. The Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines and the summary of public input are available to read or download.
Q. How can I provide feedback during the consultation process?
A. Parks Canada is committed to engaging Canadians in planning processes. More information will be available on how people can contribute to the process once the draft Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis are completed.
Summary of Comments and Responses
Parks Canada received input on the Draft Terms of Reference for the Detailed Impact Analysis for the LLSA Long Range Plan. Three submissions were received. Below is a summary of those submissions. Detailed comments and responses to each were provided to those who commented.
Ski Area Management Guidelines
One comment called for the revisiting of the determination of substantial environmental gains outlined in the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use. Comments were also received about the level of public input for the development of the Long Range Plan. Parks Canada response: The criteria for determining substantial environmental gains are found in the Parks Canada Ski Area Management Guidelines (2006) and will not be revisited.
Roles and Responsibilities/Canadian Environmental Assessment Act requirements
Respondents were concerned that the EA process is proponent-led and that Parks Canada’s roles and commitments to ecological integrity were unclear. Parks Canada response: The revised Terms of Reference confirm that ecological integrity remains Parks Canada’s first priority when making decisions. Parks Canada specialists carefully review all submissions and Parks is responsible for making determinations of significance.
Some comments raised concern that Indigenous consultation on the DIA should not be completely separate and that there could be an opportunity for some stakeholders to work directly with Indigenous communities. Parks Canada response: As a representative of the federal Crown, Parks Canada has a responsibility to engage in separate consultations with Indigenous groups. Parks Canada will share results where possible and appropriate.
Scope of Assessment/Impact Analysis
Stakeholders noted that the regional landscape should be considered and that the DIA should account for Banff National Park’s status as part of a World Heritage Site. There were also concerns that some species were not listed, and that climate change was not included. Parks Canada response: The revised Terms of Reference include these additional elements where appropriate.
Design, Mitigation and Environmental Management/Follow-up and Monitoring
Some respondents stressed the importance of incorporating any lessons learned or monitoring from project implementation into future project planning to improve environmental mitigations. Parks Canada response: The revised Terms of Reference affirm that if significant impacts cannot be avoided or mitigated, the project will not be permitted to occur. Language was also improved to clarify the expectation of an adaptive approach to development, where lessons from previous work inform both the acceptability and quality of subsequent projects.
Terms of Reference
This document sets out the Terms of Reference for the completion of a Detailed Impact Analysis of a proposed Long-Range Plan prepared by the Lake Louise Ski Area. The Terms of Reference describes the scope for the Detailed Impact Analysis, including the identification of valued components and expectations for Indigenous, stakeholder and public consultation.
In 2015 Parks Canada approved the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use (Site Guidelines). The Site Guidelines set out permanent growth limits for the Lake Louise Ski Area, identify four substantial environmental gains, and provide a blueprint for future ski area development that will enhance visitor experience. The Site Guidelines were developed by Parks Canada with input from the Lake Louise Ski Area, and are consistent with Parks Canada’s Ski Area Management Guidelines (2006) that provide ministerial direction for long-term planning and management of all national park ski areas. A Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Site Guidelines was prepared to address potential environmental implications and public concerns. The focus of this assessment was on the identification of potential cumulative effects at regional and local scales.
The Site Guidelines provide a long-term vision for the ski area and outline conceptual improvements, but they do not include project-specific details, nor approval for individual developments. The vision described in the Site Guidelines is realised through the development and implementation of one or more Long-Range Plans. These plans describe the specific projects and developments that are intended to be implemented by the ski area over a given timeframe. The content of the Long-Range Plan must be consistent with the approved Site Guidelines. The Lake Louise Ski Area is currently preparing their first Long Range Plan following the approval of the 2015 Site Guidelines.
The Long-Range Plan will be subject to an environmental impact analysis in accordance with the Parks Canada Directive on the Implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012. Parks Canada has determined that the appropriate level of assessment for the Long-Range Plan is a Detailed Impact Analysis. The Detailed Impact Analysis will address the potential project-level environmental effects of the specific land use and development proposals contained in the Long-Range Plan. A Detailed Impact Analysis is the most comprehensive level of impact assessment in the Parks Canada framework. It is intended for complex projects that require a careful analysis of project interactions with valued components. This level of assessment requires Indigenous, stakeholder, and public consultation.
2.0 Roles and Responsibilities
The Ski Area Management Guidelines (2006) stress the importance of a collaborative approach to ski area planning and management, in order to support the maintenance of ecological integrity.
Parks Canada must ensure that the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity shall be the first priority in the management of Banff National Park. Parks Canada also strives to provide outstanding visitor experiences that support economically healthy ski area operations. Parks Canada and the Lake Louise Ski Area both have distinct roles and responsibilities.
2.1 Parks Canada
- Prepares Site Guidelines with input from the ski area; Site Guidelines are approved by the CEO of Parks Canada (Lake Louise Site Guidelines approved in 2015);
- Provides advice and guidance to the ski area on the development of the Long-Range Plan, with an emphasis on ensuring consistency with the Site Guidelines and Parks Canada legislation and policy;
- Provides a Terms of Reference for the preparation of the Detailed Impact Analysis;
- Conducts Indigenous, stakeholder, and public consultation on the Terms of Reference for the Detailed Impact Analysis;
- Works collaboratively with the Lake Louise Ski Area on Indigenous, stakeholder, and public consultation on the draft Long-Range Plan and leads consultation on the draft Detailed Impact Analysis, to ensure that the federal government’s accountabilities are met;
- Analyses all input received on the draft Detailed Impact Analysis, and provides guidance to the ski area on any deficiencies or issues that need to be addressed;
- Makes a determination on the final Detailed Impact Analysis. Parks Canada will make a determination of the significance of environmental effects and the potential impacts on the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity;
- Makes a recommendation to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Minister Responsible for Parks Canada Agency) on the final Long-Range Plan.
- Prepares Long-Range Plan, with input from Parks Canada;
- Conducts a Detailed Impact Analysis on the Long-Range Plan on the basis of the Terms of Reference issued by Parks Canada;
- Works collaboratively with Parks Canada on Indigenous, stakeholder, and public consultation on the Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis;
- Analyses and summarises all input received on the Long-Range Plan, and submits a report documenting the process and results to Parks Canada for review.
- Revises Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis to reflect outcome of consultation process, with advice and guidance from Parks Canada;
- Submits final Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis to Parks Canada for consideration.
3.0 Long-Range Plan Scope
The Long-Range Plan being prepared by the Lake Louise Ski Area includes a broad range of projects and improvements reflecting the vision and objectives contained in the Site Guidelines. The scope of the Long-Range Plan includes:
- the addition of new ski lifts and the development of new ski terrain on Whitehorn Mountain and Richardson’s Ridge;
- new and expanded lodges at the base area;
- a new lodge on Eagle Ridge near the top of the existing gondola;
- relocation of the summer visitor program from Whitehorn Lodge to the new lodge on Eagle Ridge;
- expansion of Temple Lodge;
- the addition of an operations and maintenance building near Temple Lodge;
- a new warming hut near the upper terminal of the Top of the World lift on Whitehorn Mountain;
- two water storage reservoirs;
- expanded and re-designed parking areas; and,
- the development of non-skier winter activities such as tubing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing.
The DIA will investigate impacts of both the construction and operation of the infrastructure, including anticipated changes in use. For a more detailed description of the proposed projects, see the Summary of the Lake Louise Ski Area Proposed Long Range Plan, 2018 (Appendix 1).
4.0 Detailed Impact Assessment Requirements Each of the following sections outlines the expected content and level of detail that should be included in the Detailed Impact Analysis.
4.1 Long-Range Plan Introduction
- Ski Area Planning Process
- Describe the main elements and decision points of the ski area planning process in Parks Canada including legislation, Ski Area Management Guidelines, Site Guidelines, Long-Range Plans and Project Permitting
- Lake Louise Site Guidelines
- Describe the approach and key elements of the Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines at a high level
- Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Describe the main parameters and mitigations associated with the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Site Guidelines with a focus on Valued Components and the integration/linkages between the Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Long-Range Plan Detailed Impact Analysis
- Long-Range Plan Overview
- Provide an executive style overview of the key strategies, developments activities and operations associated with the Long-Range Plan
- To also include the rationale for the plan overall, how it contributes to, and aligns with the direction of the Site Guidelines, and to the Core Concepts outlined in the Site Guidelines.
4.2 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) Requirements
- CEAA and Parks Canada Directive
- Outline the requirements of CEAA 2012 and the Parks Canada Directive on Implementation of CEAA 2012
- Detailed Impact Analysis Decision Process
- Outline the reasoning for the application of the Detailed Impact Analysis in accordance with the Directive
- Impact Assessment Roles and Responsibilities
- Outline the roles and responsibilities for the completion of the Detailed Impact Analysis including the Terms of Reference, Draft and Final Detailed Impact Analysis documents, Public Participation and Detailed Impact Analysis Determination – outlining responsibilities of the Ski Area and Parks Canada.
4.3 Indigenous Consultation
Parks Canada is seeking to advance reconciliation and develop a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. As part of this effort, the Crown, represented by Parks Canada in this case, has a legal duty to consult with Indigenous Peoples, and where appropriate, make accommodations when the Crown contemplates conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights. This duty has been applied to an array of Crown actions and in relation to a variety of potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights. Parks Canada will fulfil this duty by engaging Indigenous people early, beginning with this Terms of Reference, seeking to understand how they wish to be involved, and then working with them accordingly throughout the process to ensure that their interests are addressed.
The Detailed Impact Analysis will:
- Describe the program of Indigenous consultation, including the communities involved and the type of consultation activities undertaken.
- Provide a summary of the input received through the consultation program, including in consultation with Parks Canada, the identification of:
- any adverse impact that the project may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
- any traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada provided with respect to the plan;
- Describe how findings of the consultation were applied to the final impact assessment, such as the incorporation of traditional knowledge.
4.4 Stakeholder and Public Consultation
Parks Canada’s ski area planning process also provides numerous opportunities for stakeholder and public engagement, beginning with the Site Guidelines, approved in 2015, and extending through the Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis components. The following provides a brief outline of the planned engagement program for the Detailed Impact Analysis and Long-Range Plan.
4.4.1 DIA Terms of Reference
Parks Canada made available for comment these Terms of Reference for a period of 30 days. A summary of comments received and Parks Canada’s response has been prepared.
4.4.2 Detailed Impact Analysis and Long-Range Plan
Parks Canada will conduct stakeholder and public consultation on the Detailed Impact Analysis in collaboration with the ski area consultation on the Long-Range Plan. This will provide an opportunity for participants to gain a better understanding of the specific project components that are being proposed, the analysis of any potential effects on the park’s ecological integrity and visitor experience, proposed mitigation strategies, and any cumulative effects. The Detailed Impact Analysis consultation process will be integrated with the Long-Range Plan consultation, and will last for 60 days.
The Lake Louise Ski Area is responsible for conducting the consultation program on the Long-Range Plan. However, since it is closely linked to the Detailed Impact Analysis, the two processes will be coordinated concurrently. This will provide an opportunity for participants to examine all of the proposed components of the Long-Range Plan for development and use, and to provide feedback on the proposals.
The consultation program will provide a variety of avenues for interested individuals or groups to be engaged. These will include, but will not necessarily be limited to, stakeholder sessions, public open houses, and online tools.
4.4.3 Proposed Consultation Timeline
- The Terms of Reference was circulated to stakeholders and the public in April 2018.
- The Terms of Reference will be finalised and posted by late fall 2018, along with a summary of input received.
- A 60-day consultation period on the Detailed Impact Analysis and Long-Range Plan will occur concurrently in the fall/winter 2018/19.
- Parks Canada will prepare a summary of comment on the Detailed Impact Analysis, while the Lake Louise Ski Area will respond to comments on the Long-Range Plan.
- A revised Long-Range Plan and Detailed Impact Analysis will be submitted to Parks Canada by March 2019.
4.4.4 Public Response
All comments submitted as part of the consultation program will be directed to both Parks Canada and the Lake Louise Ski Area. Parks Canada will analyse the input on these Terms of Reference, and the impact assessment, and in each case compile a summary, and advise the ski area regarding required revisions. The Lake Louise Ski Area will analyse the input received on the Long-Range Plan, and will provide a summary to Parks Canada for review prior to finalising the plan.
Parks Canada will address comments and concerns raised in the consultation process within a consultation report.
4.5 Long-Range Plan and Project Description
- Overall the project description will summarize plan and project information that is documented in greater detail in the Long-Range Plan itself. The spatial and temporal scope of the Long-Range Plan, and of individual components to be implemented as part of the Long-Range Plan, will be clearly described.
- Key Management and Operational Strategies
- The plan and project description will include a summary of all management strategies required by the Site Guidelines.
- Particular focus will be put on describing how key elements of the different strategies contribute to meeting the parameters and conditions of the Site Guidelines and Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Individual projects, activities or other initiatives that result from, or are necessary to implement, the various strategies will be identified with clear links to the appropriate strategy
- Key Development and Use Proposals
- All key development and use proposals will be described in sufficient detail to allow for environmental impact analysis that includes the scope of project development, project implementation, and the on-going operation of the project
- All key on-the-ground project development activities necessary as part of the project planning and preparation phases for individual proposals will be identified and described
- All key project implementation elements and phases, including site preparation, construction and installation, site management, landscaping and reclamation will be identified and described in detail sufficient for a pre-construction or project development planning phase to meet the intent of the Terms of Reference for the Detailed Impact Analysis
- All key activities necessary to the on-going operation and maintenance of individual project proposals through the project lifecycle will be identified and described
- Project lifecycle, decommissioning or abandonment
- It is assumed that most constructed projects will be essentially permanent in nature and that at the end of their useful life will be replaced. Potential issues related to the future replacement of facilities will be addressed at the time of replacement and will not be unnecessarily considered within the scope of the project
- Certain facilities or developments may be constructed or installed on a temporary basis, or with a designed lifespan in mind. For these facilities, decommissioning and abandonment will be considered as part of the scope of the project.
- Within the scope and parameters of the Site Guidelines, the project description will include the consideration of potential alternatives to the proposed course of action or development
- Alternatives to a project proposal are those which present different types of approaches to achieving the same project goals or objectives within the parameters and conditions considered in the Site Guidelines. For example, a key direction of the Site Guidelines for Development and Use is to reduce the reliance on direct, on-demand water withdrawal from surface water sources and ensure reliable and sustainable water supply through the use of multiple sources. The first long-range plan proposal may be to develop off-stream water reservoirs to collect surface runoff which can be charged during high stream flows. Reasonable and viable alternatives to this approach could include charging reservoirs from ground water sources.
- The identification of alternatives to a proposed project should focus on the legitimate examination as to whether or not there are reasonable, practical and viable alternatives that should be considered and assessed in conjunction with the primary proposal through the rest of the detailed impact analysis. If so, these alternatives will be carried forward and assessed in conjunction with the primary proposal with the intent of arriving at a clearly rationalized preferred alternative
- Appropriate Level of Project Detail
- In most cases, it is expected that the main ecological impacts associated with a potential project or activity will be related to long term operation and use, as opposed to the more short-term impacts associated with project development or construction
- Accordingly, project level detail will be most appropriately focused on the essential elements of final project design and long-term visitor activity and operations that may be anticipated to result in long term impacts to the valued components of the Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Project detail related to project development or construction activities should include as appropriate, the identification of best management practices and standard mitigations that will be applied to address the well-known broad areas of environmental impact associated with project development, construction and implementation.
- Parks Canada uses BMPs for routine projects with predictable outcomes where the effects are well understood and predictable. The LLSA currently operates using The 2006 Ski Area BMPs for routine maintenance activities on the hill. New BMPs will be established for future routine maintenance activities at the ski hill.
4.6 Description of Environment
- Considerable history and background exist on the Lake Louise environment from past environmental assessments, Parks Canada research, consultant research, and monitoring. Overall the description of environment will use existing information to clearly focus in on established strategic and cumulative environmental interactions with ski area development and operations.
- The most recent scientific research and information will be used and cited for this purpose. See further description in Section 4.7.
- Landscape Level Overview
- The ski area will be described in terms of its context in the broader Mountain Parks landscape – where landscape is defined as a mosaic where a mix of local ecosystems and land uses is repeated in similar form over a kilometers wide area (Foreman 1995). The landscape overview will include the consideration of broad patterns of habitat use and movement for wide ranging wildlife species.
- Local Ecosystems
- The ski area will be described in terms of its context related to local ecosystems – where a local ecosystem is defined as a spatial element within a landscape relatively homogeneous and distinct in boundary (Foreman 1995). With respect to the ski area, local ecosystems will include the Slate Range/Skoki area; the Bow, Pipestone and Corral Creek watersheds; as well as important wildlife habitat and movement corridors, and existing patterns of human use and development throughout the mosaic of local ecosystems, including downstream uses of the Bow River.
- Biophysical and Land Use Mosaic
- The ski area will be described in terms of the existing biophysical and land use mosaic (Foreman 1995) – where the mosaic includes a combination of distinct natural patches, corridors and networks overlaid with past and existing land use and development within or immediately adjacent to the ski area. Within the ski area, natural mosaic patches may be identified primarily through biophysical land classification using the Ecological Land Classification of Banff and Jasper National Parks (Holland, W. D. and G. M. Coen, (Eds), 1982. Ecological (Biophysical) Inventory of Banff and Jasper National Parks, Pub. SS-82-44, AB Inst. Of Pedology, Edmonton, AB. Wildlife corridors, watercourse and aquatic networks cross the biophysical mosaic, and important habitat for rare or endangered species may be found within or across patches and networks. Land use and development will be overlaid upon the natural land mosaic to provide a picture of where and how ski area development and operation alters and affects the natural biophysical mosaic within the ski area. This approach should be taken at both local and landscape levels.
- Site Scale Description
- Where major construction or development is proposed the Description of Environment should include a site scale description of the area and natural features that are likely to be impacted by the specific project proposal based on the ecological land classification (ELC).
4.7 Scope of Assessment
- Project/Environment Interactions
- Key Management and Operational Strategies, Key Development and Use Proposals and any viable and reasonable Alternatives To the primary proposals will be methodically assessed in terms of potential environmental interactions at the landscape, local ecosystem and land use mosaic scales.
- Site scale interactions associated with specific projects will be identified to provide a basis for the assessment of best management practices or other mitigations at the appropriate scale.
- Valued Components
- The valued components selected for assessment represent the expected outcomes associated with maintaining ecological integrity, visitor experience and infrastructure capacity outlined in the Lake Louise Site Guidelines for Development and Use Strategic Environmental Assessment.
- The Valued Components for Ecological Integrity will include:
- Native vegetation with a focus on forest structure, fire disturbance regime, Whitebark pine, rare and sensitive species, and alpine bowl habitat
- Wildlife species and habitat including consideration of Grizzly bear and Grizzly Bear habitat security, Mountain goat, Wolverine, Canada lynx, and recovery of Mountain caribou
- Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor with a focus on wary carnivore movement e.g. bears, wolves, wolverine
- Aquatic ecosystems with a focus on Westslope Cutthroat trout and Bull trout, surface water and groundwater flow regimes, riparian habitat, fens/tarns/ponds, and water quality.
- Valued Components of Visitor Experience will include:
- safe, comfortable and enjoyable visitor experience
- Visitor education
- Viewscapes and aesthetics
- Compatibility of visitor use
- Visitor perception and wilderness character.
- Impacts will be considered to address perspectives of visitors outside the ski area and potential changes to public access of surrounding areas.
- Valued Components for the evaluation of potential impacts to regional infrastructure capacity will include:
- road and transportation system capacity
- water supply and demand
- downstream water quality
- electrical supply and demand
- visitor and staff accommodation capacity.
- Key Ecological Interactions
- The greatest level of effort applied to the detailed impact analysis will focus on those project/environment interactions that are most likely to affect the various Valued Components and the attainment of the associated ecological management parameters and guidelines of the Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Key interactions of greatest concern are most effectively identified in terms of ecological level effects on composition, structure, function or process at the different ecological scales as described above in the Description of Environment
- A focus on key ecological interactions will direct assessment effort and analysis most effectively on those elements of the Long-Range Plan that potentially affect ecological integrity, and as a way to focus cumulative effects assessment.
- Climate Change
- Identify the changes that can be expected from climate change and how predications of climate change interact with the predicted effects of the LRP. This should include but is not limited to snowfall, snow accumulation and water use.
- Cumulative Effects
- Rather than an add-on to assessment of residual effects, the primary effort of the detailed impact analysis is to be on cumulative effects
- Cumulative effects will be assessed throughout the analysis, by focusing on key ecological interactions, how those interactions affect the various Valued Components individually or as a group and whether or not the Ecological Management Parameters of the Site Guidelines and Strategic Environmental Assessment are likely to be attained.
- Cumulative effects should include other foreseeable projects, induced development, and projected trends in visitor use that are cumulative to the impacts that the LRP may have.
- Routine Environmental Effects
- Routine environmental effects will be identified as the well-known and familiar impacts that can be effectively managed through standard mitigations, best management practices, environmental management plans, and permitting as projects are implemented
- Routine environmental factors are important with respect to minimizing any unnecessary impacts but are unlikely to affect key ecological interactions.
- Parks Canada uses BMPs for routine projects with predictable outcomes where the effects are well understood and predictable. The LLSA currently operates using The 2006 Ski Area BMPs for routine maintenance activities on the hill. New BMPs will be established for future routine maintenance activities at the ski hill.
- Research and Information Requirements
- The impact analysis will be conducted on a foundation of existing science-based information, to the degree that such information is available, relevant to the ski area situation, and up-to-date
- The most recent scientific information will be used and the confidence level of this data will be indicated in the DIA.
- Existing information will be backed up through field work, research, predictive modelling or other objective analysis to fill important information gaps related to key ecological interactions
- Important research and information requirements related to Valued Components are identified in the Strategic Environmental Assessment and will be addressed as applicable to the scope of the Long-Range Plan.
- Spatial and Temporal Scope
- The spatial scope of assessment will be determined with respect to overall ecosystem function specific to a Valued Component, the associated ecological interactions, and the likely extent of impacts associated with ski area development, use and operations.
- The temporal scope of assessment will align with the life cycle of proposed projects.
4.8 Impact Analysis
- Cumulative Effects
- As discussed previously, the Detailed Impact Analysis is to be considered primarily as a cumulative effects assessment rather than a project level assessment
- Cumulative Effects Assessment will not simply be considered with respect to residual project level affects, but will form the core of the assessment evaluating the potential impacts of the long-term development, use and operation of the ski area as laid out in the Long-Range Plan overall.
- Impacts to Valued Components
- Cumulative effects will be assessed through a focus on key ecological interactions, and how those interactions individually and cumulatively affect the associated Valued Components
- Impact analysis will provide science-based information to predict whether or not the Ecological Management Parameters of the Site Guidelines and Strategic Environmental Assessment are likely to be attained.
- Routine Environmental Effects
- The analysis of routine effects will be sufficient to demonstrate that the best management practices, standard mitigations, or subsequent review and permitting processes will effectively ensure that there are no potentially significant environmental effects. If potentially significant environmental impacts could be expected then a more thorough analysis is required.
4.9 Design, Mitigation and Environmental Management
- Mitigation through design
- The primary means to mitigate potential impacts is to avoid impacts through design. The impact analysis will clearly demonstrate how potential impacts will be avoided or mitigated through project and operational design, location, timing, use and management parameters, or other means.
- Describe where initial project concepts have been adjusted, adapted or abandoned during the impact assessment process, reflecting the influence of the impact assessment process on project design.
- Alternative Means
- Alternative means of carrying out a project will be methodically evaluated as part of mitigating environmental effects. For example, a key project may be a reservoir. Considering two or more potential locations would be considered to be alternative means.
- The Detailed Impact Analysis must describe and evaluate any mitigation measures that are technically and economically feasible that would address any significant adverse environmental effects of the project.
- Project implementation level mitigation addressing routine environmental effects will focus on the identification and application of best management practices, standard mitigations, or environmental management plans and permitting requirements to be implemented as a project is initiated.
- If potentially significant impacts cannot be avoided or mitigated satisfactorily, or if the ecological conditions and parameters of the SEA cannot be met, then the proposed project will not be permitted to occur.
4.10 World Heritage Value
- Describe the Outstanding Universal Value as identified by the World Heritage Centre.
- Where applicable, identify the proposed impacts of the Long Range Plan on each of the following elements of the outstanding universal value:
- Mountain peaks
- Icefields and glaciers
- Alpine meadows
- Karst cave systems
- Deeply incised canyons
- The natural beauty associated with the above elements
- The ability of the above to attract and be enjoyed by millions of visitors annually
- Burgess shale
- Describe the degree to which any negative impacts are at the scale of that whole element for the world heritage site.
4.11 Residual Impacts
- The assessment of residual impacts will primarily consider those residual impacts related to key ecological interactions and the subsequent implications to associated Valued Components.
- Residual cumulative effects should be identified with respect to each Valued Component and the implications for achieving the ecological management parameters for that component.
- As routine environmental effects will be addressed through other means as projects come forward for implementation there is no requirement to evaluate residual impacts at this level. As addressed above under Design, Mitigation and Environmental Management, the process or means of addressing routine environmental effects should be identified based on the scope of assessment and impact analysis processes.
4.12 Follow Up and Monitoring
- The impact analysis will clearly identify any key information gaps or potential significant uncertainties associated with the conclusions on residual impacts.
- Information gaps or deficiencies identified will be clearly related to, and considered necessary for, moving ahead with a project proposal in the future.
- The timing, scope and objectives of any follow-up or monitoring program will be identified.
- The DIA will describe how individual projects will be monitored for mitigation effectiveness and residual impacts to better inform future projects in the LRP. Information gathered during the monitoring process will inform future development, including the possibility that some proposed projects may no longer be feasible.
- Detailed methodologies are not required.
SUMMARY OF THE LAKE LOUISE SKI AREA PROPOSED LONG-RANGE PLAN, 2018
BANFF NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA
This document summarizes the proposed developments that comprise the first Long-Range Plan (LRP) submitted to Parks Canada by the Lake Louise Ski Area (LLSA) under the terms of Parks Canada’s 2015 Lake Louise Ski Area Site Guidelines for Development and Use. Proposed developments advanced in the first LRP are described, and ski area capacities are defined consistent with North American ski area planning standards.
Two maps that illustrate the proposals are included. Figure 1 is a map illustrating the LLSA’s existing leasehold boundary, and the proposed new boundary which includes land assigned by both Lease and License of Occupation. Figure 2 illustrates the location of existing and proposed day lodges, ski lifts, ski runs and gladed ski terrain. An inset box highlights proposed day lodge developments at the Whisky Jack Base Area.
2. Visitor Growth Forecasts and Ski Area Capacity
At an average annual growth rate of 2.5%, the LLSA anticipates that regional population growth, and increased interest in winter-season recreation and sightseeing will increase visitation to the resort by at least 50% over the next two decades. For that same time period, the ski area anticipates that demand for on-hill (skiing) recreation will require an increase in the approved winter-season planning capacity from the existing 6,000 visitors per day to 9,000 visitors per day when the first LRP has been fully implemented.
The ski area forecasts that non-ski visits (primarily to the base lodges and the proposed new Eagle Ridge Day Lodge) will increase from the current 500 visitors per peak day to 1,000 visitors per peak day when the first LRP is fully implemented. These assumptions would bring peak-day ‘planned’ winter season use to 10,000 visitors. This winter season visitation level is within the 11,500 maximum visitor capacity established in the 2015 Site Guidelines.
While daily maximum summer use visitation remains well below that for the winter season, the relocation of the summer program to a new day lodge on Eagle Ridge is expected to attract additional visitors, while improved exhibits and new, panoramic ridge-top trails will enhance the visitor experience. The LLSA anticipates that peak summer visitation will increase to 3,000+ visitors per day.
The proposals contained in the first LRP are designed to accommodate these anticipated levels of visitation within a balanced resort capacity. The LLSA anticipates that the full implementation of the first LRP will require a period of at least 12 to 15 years.
3. Substantial Environmental Gains
The 2015 Site Guidelines include four substantial environmental gains associated with long range planning and development at the ski area. The LLSA is addressing each of these requirements during the early stages of the first LRP. The four substantial environmental gains are:
- Removal of Purple and Wolverine Bowl from the ski area lease. This important wildlife habitat has been removed from the ski area lease. These lands will be added to the wilderness area of Banff National Park by an amendment to the National Parks Wilderness Area Declaration Regulations.
- Removal of land within the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor from the ski area lease. This important wildlife habitat has been removed from the ski area lease. Most of these lands will be added to the wilderness area of Banff National Park by an amendment to the National Parks Wilderness Area Declaration Regulations. Several access roads and utility corridors within this area are required for ski area operations and will be managed through a license of occupation.
- Relocation of summer use out of important grizzly bear habitat at mid-mountain to the upper ridge of Mount Whitehorn. As part of the first LRP, the LLSA proposes to build a new day lodge on Eagle Ridge adjacent to the existing Grizzly Gondola lift, and re-locate the summer program to this facility.
- Significant reduction of water withdrawal from the Pipestone River and Corral Creek during periods of low flow. The first LRP identifies a number of measures that will be undertaken to reduce the ski area’s dependence on water withdrawal during low-flow periods, including the development of water reservoirs.
4. Management Strategies
The 2015 Site Guidelines require the LLSA to undertake a number of studies, plans and strategies as a foundation for developing the first LRP in a manner that maintains the ecological integrity of the park. Key planning strategies in the first LRP include a Water Management Strategy, Wildlife Management Strategy, Vegetation and Ski Run Management Strategy, Parking and Transportation Strategy, Utilities Plan, Race Course and Competitive Events Best Management Practices, Architectural Design Guidelines, and a Heritage Tourism and Interpretation Strategy.
5. Alpine Ski Terrain and Ski Lifts
The LLSA has an approved ski area capacity of 6,000 skiers per day. Figure 2 shows the location of existing ski terrain and ski lifts. The first LRP includes comprehensive proposals to increase the capacity of alpine ski terrain and ski lifts to 9,000 skiers per day. Figure 2 shows the location of proposed new lift alignments, ski runs, and areas that will be enhanced for skiing through vegetation thinning or glading. The LLSA currently has 551 ha of skiable terrain. The 2015 Site Guidelines allow for the development of an additional 466 ha of ski terrain at build-out, bringing total skiable terrain to 1,017 ha. This first LRP includes proposals to create approximately 315 ha of additional skiable terrain, bringing the ski area total to 866 ha.
The capacity of lifts to take skiers out of the base area is a key consideration in ski area planning. The current out-of-base lift capacity is inadequate on peak attendance days. The following ski lift developments proposed in the first long-range plan will nearly double the current out-of-base lift capacity:
- Lower Juniper’ chairlift: A new detachable quad called the Lower Juniper chairlift is proposed adjacent to the former Olympic chairlift alignment. This new chairlift will be an important addition to the ski area’s out-of-base capacity and will service new beginner and intermediate terrain that is proposed in the lower Juniper ski pod. This new lift will carry up to 2,200 passengers per hour (pph) from the base area to a top terminal above the proposed new beginner and ‘play’ terrain which will be developed in the early stages of the first LRP.
- ‘Upper Juniper’ chairlift: The Lower Juniper top terminal will be adjacent to the base terminal of the Upper Juniper chairlift. This lift will carry skiers to Whitehorn ridge, west of the upper terminal of the Top-of-the-World chairlift. This lift will provide access to the Summit lift on its existing, or proposed new alignment. The base terminal of the Upper Juniper lift will be positioned to allow skiers using the proposed West Bowl egress skiway to return to the upper mountain without passing through the Whisky Jack base area.
- ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘Upper Eagle’ chairlifts: A new Meadowlark detachable quad chairlift, also with an uphill capacity of up to 2,200 pph is proposed for development adjacent to the existing Meadowlark intermediate ski run. The Meadowlark lift will serve the existing Meadowlark ski run, and two ‘parallel’ ski runs to be developed on the front side of Whitehorn Mountain. The design for these new ski runs will address concerns for visibility and safety, while also responding to wildlife, vegetation, and fire management objectives.
The new, parallel Meadowlark ski runs will be designed to meet the standards established by the Féderation Internationale de Ski (F.I.S.) for Giant Slalom and Slalom ski races. The new Meadowlark chairlift will provide skiers access to the proposed Upper Eagle chairlift which is a replacement for the Eagle chairlift, decommissioned in 2004 when the Grizzly Gondola was upgraded.
- ‘Sunnyside’ winter sports area: The “Sunnyside” beginner teaching and fun play area which is situated on the east side of the Whisky Jack base area (Map 2 - inset) will be expanded uphill to increase skiable terrain, better separation of beginners carpet lifts, and the installation of a new chairlift. The Tubing Park will be lengthened and re-designed to create tighter, better carved lanes to improve slope profiles and rider safety. The Ski-Out trail from the Temple area will be re-aligned from the Fish Creek parking area to re-enter the base area above the extended Sunnyside beginner terrain.
- ‘Upgrade Existing Lifts’: The Grizzly Gondola will be rebuilt and upgraded, and the Glacier Chairlift will be converted from a 4 to 6-seater format. These improvements, and the addition of the Lower Juniper lift will increase combined base lift capacity from 4,800 pph to 7,000 pph, a 45+% increase. In the longer-term, the Meadowlark lift will further increase out-of-base capacity to 9,200 pph, sufficient to meet the requirements to build-out.
- ‘Richardson’s Ridge / Prunepickers lifts: A new detachable quad chairlift will be installed to provide access to new beginner and intermediate ski terrain on the southwest-facing slopes of Richardson’s Ridge. Gladed skiing will be developed on the steeper northeast-facing slopes of the ridge, with an egress skiway paralleling Hidden and Corral Creeks returning skiers to the lift base.
The base terminal of this chairlift will be located near the junction of Pika and Corral Creeks, while the upper terminal will be located near the tree line on Richardson’s Ridge. For skiers at Temple Lodge, access to the Richardson’s Ridge chairlift will be via a surface or elevated lift installed on Prunepicker’s Hill to provide access across Corral Creek to the base of the proposed Richardson’s Ridge lift.
- West Bowl: In addition to these ski lifts and ski terrain developments, the ski area proposes to open West Bowl for skiing in the early stages of the first LRP. West Bowl will offer skiing under natural conditions. No snowmaking, or grooming of ski runs will occur, although avalanche control will be provided. An egress trail will be developed to return skiers to the top of the new Juniper ski pod.
Access to West Bowl will be through an entrance portal that ensures that all skiers are equipped with appropriate avalanche and snow safety equipment. Some glading will be required to facilitate access to the egress skiway. Safety patrol will be provided. West Bowl can already be accessed from the Summit lift on Whitehorn Ridge, requiring that no new lifts be developed.
- Skiways and Connectors: To ensure safety for skiers of all skill levels, the Sunset Terrace, Home Run and Wounded Knee skiways require widening and grade improvements. The 2015 Site Guidelines stipulate that improvements to these skiways may be advanced outside the scope of Long-Range Plans.
A number of other ski trails that provide connections for beginner and intermediate skiers between lifts and ski runs require improvements that involve less extensive terrain modification. Examples include connections between the top of the Ptarmigan Chairlift and the Pika ski run; from the Pika ski run to the base of the Paradise Chairlift; and the Pickaboo connector from Paradise base to the original Ptarmigan run. Ski terrain safety improvements are also required at Hell’s Kitchen.
6. Ski Area Parking and Transportation
The LLSA proposes to develop all available parking in the first LRP to ensure that sufficient parking and ski area storage is available for both winter and summer seasons. The ski area plans a phased approach to parking improvements, with initial projects focusing on existing parking lots 3 and 4. A new access road from parking lot 1 to the Fish Creek trailhead will be developed to allow Parks Canada to remove the lower portion of the existing access road that crosses the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor.
7. Day Lodges and Commercial Services
The Lake Louise Ski Area currently has 7,527 m2 of commercial space in day lodges at the Temple, Whitehorn, and Whisky Jack base area. The Site Guidelines allow an additional 9,850 m2 of commercial space (commercial and commercial operations support) to meet industry standards. New commercial space proposed in the first LRP is approximately 8,630 m2, bringing the ski area’s total commercial space to 16,997 m2. These totals include 950 m2 for the day care and nursery which provides service to visitors, staff and other residents of the Village of Lake Louise. A detailed analysis of day-lodge visitor service space requirements will be presented in the LRP.
The first LRP includes the following proposed day-lodge developments and expansions:
- Whisky Jack Base Area Expansion: The ski area proposes to develop two new day lodges at the Base Area, and to double the space available for the day care and nursery. The inset on Figure 2 illustrates the proposed re-design of base area day lodges. These expansions would be phased with a new day lodge adjacent to the original Whisky Jack lodge moving forward in the first phase. The proposed Edu-Lodge and day care expansion will be designed to fit seamlessly with proposed re-development of the Sunnyside Beginner-Teaching Area.
Proposed renovations to existing lodges include adding a third floor to Whisky Jack Lodge, and enclosing decks at the Lodge-of-the-Ten-Peaks. In total, approximately 5,347 m2 of additional visitor service space will be provided to meet industry standards for core visitor services and to meet goals for interpretation and education.
- Temple Lodge Expansion and Operations Building: The existing Temple Lodge offers approximately 925 m2 of customer service space in a unique square-timber building that has architectural heritage value. The LLSA proposes to double the size of Temple Lodge to accommodate the projected increase in skier numbers, and to service the new lift and ski terrain on Richardson’s Ridge.
The first long-range plan also includes a proposal to construct a small Operations Centre in the Temple / Ptarmigan base area, adjacent to the proposed new water storage reservoir (see section 8). This facility is required to support snow safety, and snow grooming operations on the back side of the mountain.
- Juniper Warming Hut: The first LRP includes a proposal to build a 350 m2 Warming Hut on Whitehorn Ridge adjacent to the upper terminals of the existing Top-of-the-World chairlift and the proposed Upper Juniper chairlift. This warming hut will provide shelter, brown-bag seating, bathrooms and limited food and beverage service during the winter season. It will also be used to support ski racing during the early season period when the World Cup downhill course is in use. During the summer, it will be used as a warming hut, providing bathrooms, brown-bag seating, and vending machines.
- Eagle Ridge Day Lodge: The LLSA proposes to build a new mountain-top lodge that will service both the summer and winter visitor use, and will allow the relocation of the summer visitor program from Whitehorn Lodge to Eagle Ridge. The proposed new lodge will provide 2,325 m2 of service area, including sufficient space for interpretation exhibits, some of which will be year-round, extending interpretation efforts into the winter season.
The design of this new lodge is intended to allow visitors to enjoy the location’s 360º view of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, while ensuring that it blends effectively with the ridgeline to reduce potential visual impacts. The Eagle Ridge day lodge will be the start and end point for a series of self-guided and guided interpretative trails that will be developed in the first phase of this LRP.
- Whitehorn Day Lodge: Following the completion of the Eagle Ridge lodge, Whitehorn Lodge will revert to winter-season use only. The ski area has no plans to expand the size of this lodge in the first LRP, but may undertake renovations to improve the building’s appearance and the functionality of existing interior space.
8. Infrastructure / Utilities Systems
To ensure that power, water, sewer and waste management systems are adequate to meet the needs of these proposed developments, the LLSA is preparing a Utilities Plan to be included in the first LRP. The electrical power supply system inside the ski area requires substantial upgrading to improve reliability, and to provide redundancy. The LLSA is working with FORTIS to determine final design for the upgraded electrical power distribution system.
9. Snowmaking System and Water Management
The first LRP includes the proposed development of two water storage reservoirs within the ski area’s leasehold. A water reservoir capable of storing 15 to 20% of existing snowmaking water demand will be developed adjacent to the main pumphouse on the Pipestone River. A second, smaller reservoir will be developed downstream from Temple Lodge. These reservoirs will be filled during the peak run-off period, and will be used to maximize early-season snowmaking, and for late-season water storage.
A long-term Water Management Strategy for the LLSA will be prepared as part of the first LRP. Research is underway to evaluate the potential use of groundwater to supply all or a portion of the ski area’s water demand. The Water Management Strategy will also examine the potential of on-hill snow-melt retention ponds. Two potential ponds are illustrated on Figure 2 (inset) adjacent to the Whisky Jack Base Area but are not proposed at this time. Climate change assessments and modelling will be incorporated into the Water Management Strategy.
The LLSA snowmaking system presently covers approximately 98.3 hectare of slopes and trails. Proposed future snowmaking (at build-out) would increase the snowmaking system coverage by approximately 60.7 hectares (68%) to a total of 159.0 hectares of slopes and trails. Snow-making coverage would then require approximately 550,000 m3 of water, which is within the current limits of the ski area’s water license.