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.

Just Posted

West Kelowna winery’s Festival of Trees returns

The fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation will return for a third year Nov. 22.

Second transmission line cancelled for West Kelowna

BC Hydro now planning to just make upgrades to existing power line

New era for West Kelowna Warriors with new ownership, management and culture

The Warriors’ revealed the team’s new president and outlook for remainder of the season

World’s largest Indigenous tourism conference hits Kelowna

The Syilx, Nlakápamux and Secwépemc Nations are hosting the 2019 IITC

Canadian Mental Health Association launches Kelowna initiative to improve workplace mental health

Known as “Thoughtfull” the initiative aims to work with employers to create a healthy workplace

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

B.C. forest industry trade mission finding new markets in China

Diplomatic tensions eased, minister Doug Donaldson says

Staight from DeHart

New restaurant takes on Mediterranean flavour

Sex assault charge stayed against Port Moody mayor

Rob Vagramov completed an alternative measures program, special prosecutor said

Campaign lights up support for North Okanagan healthcare

The goal is to raise $275,000 towards urgently needed equipment at the hospital

“I thought, enough is enough”: B.C. teen takes on bullies through social media

‘I thought, enough is enough. I wanted to try something to stop it.’

Audit finds Canada’s fisheries in decline and response lacks urgency

Report says 17 per cent of fish stocks are critically depleted, up from 13.4 per cent in 2018

Small group of Cherry fans protest his firing at Rogers HQ

One sign at the Toronto rally: ‘Rogers cancels Don, we cancel Rogers’

Most Read