Admitted to taking down endangered trees: Lake Louise ski resort to be sentenced

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed

A judge is to sentence a world-renowned Alberta ski resort today for cutting down endangered trees five years ago.

The Lake Louise resort in Banff National Park pleaded guilty last December to taking down a stand of trees, including some whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013.

The resort is to be sentenced in a Calgary courtroom on two charges — one under the Species At Risk Act and the other under the Canada National Parks Act.

A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered whitebark pine has been disputed. The Crown originally said 39 were removed, but the defence said the number was much lower.

The maximum fine under the Species At Risk Act for each tree destroyed is $300,000, while the maximum per tree is $250,000 under the National Parks Act.

“We’ll be relieved when it’s finally over,” said Dan Markham, communications director for Lake Louise Ski Resort.

READ MORE: B.C. ‘legacy tree’ policy under review after ancient fir logged

“Lake Louise is eager to move forward and initiate the remediation plan we’ve been working on in co-operation with Parks Canada.”

The long-lived, five-needle whitebark pine is native to high elevations and is threatened by invasive disease, fire and climate change. It is considered crucial because it provides food and habitat for animals and helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.

The tree exists at high elevations in western North America at or close to the treeline. It has been growing on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.

An agreed statement of facts says a trail crew, consisting of six employees including a supervisor, began maintenance in the summer of 2013 on Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski resort. The work involved cleaning up, repairing and erecting fences, and trimming and removing some trees.

The document says that in late September of that year, the workers cut down a number of trees, including endangered whitebark pine, without a permit.

The facts statement says it wasn’t until Aug. 12, 2014, that Parks Canada and resort personnel who were assessing the site for a new hiking trail discovered the endangered trees had been cut.

DNA analysis confirmed the trees were whitebark pine. The matter was turned over to Parks Canada for an investigation and charges were laid.

The court document says Lake Louise was co-operative during the investigation and has taken steps to prevent similar occurrences. It says the resort has also spent money on initiatives related to the whitebark pine, including extensive mapping of that tree in the area.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

Revelstoke students to remain home next week

The district said staff are preparing for learning opportunities for students from home

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Corona Busters’: Vernon man drives vintage ambulance in appreciation of health-care workers

Rob Newport says he aims to make people smile during the COVID-19 pandemic with Ghostbusters-themed ride

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Most Read