What are “Site Guidelines”?
Answer: Site guidelines are Parks Canada rules that will govern how Sunshine Ski Village will be developed over our 42-year lease. Because the new site guidelines will form part of our lease and because our lease will become part of the National Parks Act, it will be almost impossible to change the guidelines once Parks Canada settle on the final version. So, taking the time to do it right and specifically seeking input from those who use Sunshine is vital. Unfortunately, the window for consultations is short-just 60 days-and because the consultation falls over the summer many of the skiers and snowboarders who might wish to comment may not even be aware that a consultation is happening. The deadline for submissions is August 19th.
Why doesn’t Sunshine just build a parkade on the existing parking lot for the necessary parking?
Answer: We believe a parkade is part of the best parking solution but not the entire solution. If we totally relied on a parkade, it would have to be 1,080 stalls which is out of scale with what people would expect to see in a national park ski area. It also is only needed about 50 days out of the year. The cost would be so extreme that lift ticket and season pass pricing would go through the roof to cover its cost and the resort’s pricing would not be competitive with other regional ski areas. Also, wildlife will travel through a parking lot at night be a giant parkade will block wildlife movement. Our plan for satellite parking lots it better for the ecological integrity of the area and will best aid in providing balance allowing for us to reach the 8,500 people-at-one-time design capacity of our resort.
Will we see any expanded terrain or new lifts?
Answer: Parks Canada’s plan eliminates 3 important new chairlifts within our current lease boundary that have been planned for years (Bye Bye Bowl, Meadow Park, and Goat’s Eye III). We have proposed those three lifts plus Goat’s Eye II, Hayes Hill Express, and Lookout Express for a total of 6 new lifts along with associated trails. All six of these lifts are possible without expanding the footprint of the existing boundary. Parks Canada is proposing to shrink the existing boundary, eliminating Bye Bye Bowl, Goat’s Eye III, and Meadow Park. Their plan doesn’t balance the lift and terrain capacity to the approved people-at-one-time capacity of 8,500 at build-out.
The lodges are currently overcrowded on weekends. How is this being addressed?
Answer: Parks Canada’s plan does not provide enough square meters of commercial space to balance to the build-out capacity of 8,500 people-at-one-time. We proposed the correct amount of commercial space. Parks Canada’s plan shows a range of 2,000 to 3,650 new meters of commercial space and we propose 5,050 new square meters. Our proposal is based on 1.4 meters per person at build-out which is a reasonable standard and is the same as what Parks Canada approved for Lake Louise Ski Area.
Does Sunshine Village agree with Parks Canada’s plan?
Answer: We do not believe the plan that Parks Canada has put forth will work in the long-run. Building space, lift capacity, trail capacity, and parking will be out of balance with the approved people-at-one-time capacity of 8,500. The resort will not offer a world-class experience for its visitors. Parks plan for a secondary access lift from the base area, parking, and summer use is less beneficial to the environment than our plan options.
Is Parks being fair with Sunshine compared to other national park ski areas?
Answer: No. Marmot Basin and Lake Louise were given new lands for trail and lift development adjacent to the ski area in exchange for giving up areas out of their lease boundary. In the case of Sunshine Village, we are being asked to give up lands that were previously planned for new lifts and parking while not getting any new lands for those uses. Lake Louise and Marmot Basin were given the ability to develop enough surface parking to balance to their maximum people-at-one-time limits without having to build cost- prohibitive parkades. Sunshine is not getting enough commercial space while the other mountain park ski areas were given adequate spaces for uses such as restaurants, lockers, rental shops, and retail stores.
How do site guidelines affect the future of the resort?
Answer: Site guidelines are Parks Canada rules that will govern how Sunshine Ski Village will be developed over our new 42-year lease. Because the new site guidelines will form part of our lease and because our lease will become part of the National Parks Act, it will be almost impossible to change the guidelines once Parks Canada settle on the final version. So, taking the time to do it right and specifically seeking input from those who use Sunshine is vital. Unfortunately, the window for consultations is short-just 60 days-and because the consultation falls over the summer many of the skiers and snowboarders who might wish to comment may not even be aware that a consultation is happening.
But don’t all parties have the same amount of time to comment? Why does it matter what time of year the consultation is being held?
Answer: Some activist groups are solely dedicated to severely limiting or outright blocking development that would allow others to enjoy Banff National Park, such as future generations of skiers and snowboarders. People with disabilities and the elderly are effectively cut out from many of the other opportunities to see their national park but ski area cable cars give them that opportunity.
We know from the past that activist environmental groups will launch a nationwide campaign to oppose anything in the site guidelines that would accommodate even modest visitor growth, even though any facilities improvement would occur within the existing footprint of the Sunshine lease. We asked Parks Canada for more time beyond August 19th for the public to comment but have been turned down.
But maybe environmental activists have a point. Isn’t Banff National Park becoming over developed?
Answer: Not at all. Sunshine Village occupies less than 1% of Banff National Park. Only about 4% of the entire park is developed overall. Future development must occur in the areas where development already exists. Well over 90% of Banff National Park is inaccessible to anyone but Parks Canada officials and scientists. Many of the public trails are only accessible for those with high levels of fitness and back country experience meaning that these areas are effectively off limits for most Canadians. Most roads that once allowed back country access are now closed to the public. Some of the development that has occurred in the past was to improve safety, such as twinning the Trans Canada Highway. In our current lease negotiations with Parks Canada, we are being asked to surrender part of the land in our existing lease so it can be returned to wilderness. We are willing to consider this. We have already voluntarily set aside many areas for protection. However, in the areas we use for skiing and snowboarding we are seeking site guidelines that will accommodate upgrading our infrastructure, equipment and facilities for the next generation of visitors.
I like Sunshine and want to see things improved in the future. How can I make a difference?
Answer: As a citizen of Canada, you can help to make sure our Site Guidelines will balance and work well long into the future. This is your National Park. Contact your federal representatives. Contact the Prime Minister. Share this website with friends and family. Click here to write an email which will go to Parks Canada.