I am writing this brief letter from my desk in Calgary, Alberta to you because I think you should know something and quite frankly, I think Member of Parliament the Honourable Catherine McKenna (Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change) needs to know as well.
We all know that as a Minister in the sitting government that Catherine McKenna is very busy and she may not be aware of all that is going on in every aspect. I am giving Catherine the benefit of the doubt on the situation I am about to share with you.
Catherine McKenna claims to be a champion of the environment and I am going to believe that she means well. I am sick of the us against them mentality and the East vs West mentality (although Albertan's really do have serious and constantly ignored grievances).
We all agree that we do need to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren and there is plenty of misinformation out there about Alberta and our industry in the Eastern media, especially related to the oil sands. We will never understand how our own safe, stable, secure and ethical oil is not consumed by our fellow Canadians.
Even the Liberal government acknowledges 7 Facts On The Oil Sands & The Environment as seen at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/oil-sands/18091 But, that is not what this letter is about.
This letter is actually all about trees and helping Parks Canada make the best decision for Alberta and Canada.
We Albertans love our rich environment and our natural beauty as equally as we pride ourselves on our industries. We work hard and we play hard in our parks such as Jasper, Kanasakis Country, the Badlands and Banff to just name a few. Albertans also love to ski and one of our favourite places is Banff Sunshine. Sunshine has been in balance with the environment and wildlife for over 90 years and we want to continue this important balance, but, Parks Canada is ramming through new site guidelines that are not as environmentally friendly as they should be.
The new site guidelines were supposed to be a legitimate collaborative discussion, but, they have actually ceased without agreement between the Federal government (specifically the Ministry of Environment) and Sunshine Ski & Snowboard Resort. In fact, Parks Canada is pushing to complete 2018 Site Guideline approvals and subsequent 40 year leases PRIOR to the potential of a federal election issue.
Stakeholders are being ignored. Public forums and open houses have been scheduled without any input or agreement from Sunshine during the summer from July 19 - August 19 while all active skiers are dormant. Collaboration is not occurring and anything that has been proposed by Sunshine is being ignored by Parks Canada while they are pushing forward with their agenda which includes, but, is not limited to:
However, the real issue for us is the lift ideas that Parks Canada has for Sunshine. We disagree with Parks Canada's vision for new lifts, glades and trails for Sunshine as other mountain park ski areas site guidelines allow them to not only build lifts within their existing boundary but have reshaped their boundary to allow new lifts and significant new trails and ski terrain outside of their old boundary. The parallel lift that Parks Canada wants to force Sunshine to create would force Sunshine to build multiple towers and unnecessarily remove thousands of trees having a negative impact on the environment that could be avoided.
Sunshine proposes a secondary aerial lift that goes from the base area to just above the tree line on Goat's Eye, tying into the Sunshine Coast ski run. It could be either a tram or a gondola.
This is a great solution because:
Alternatively, Parks Canada proposes to accomplish this by
running a secondary access lift parallel to the gondola. This is less preferred from an
environmental point-of-view because:
Admittedly, the one intermediate tower that is required for the Sunshine Village proposal is outside of the existing ski area boundary. It is slightly out of the designated wilderness zone. However, a licence of occupation could easily be provided to allow for this one tower. Sunshine is willing to give back valuable wildlife corridor land out of its existing leasehold to help offset this single tower installation.
Additionally, we feel the Sunshine proposed alignment would enhance the skiers experience by providing direct access to ski terrain whereas the Parks Canada proposal just provides access to the bottom of other existing lifts.
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