Lake Louise ski resort loses appeal of $2M fine for cutting endangered trees

Lake Louise ski resort loses appeal of $2M fine for cutting endangered trees

Lake Louise ski resort loses appeal of $2M fine for cutting endangered trees

CALGARY — An Alberta judge has upheld a $2.1 million fine against a world-renowned ski resort for cutting down endangered trees nearly seven years ago.

Lake Louise Ski Resort pleaded guilty in 2017 to taking down a stand of trees, including 38 endangered whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013.

The fine, which was imposed a year later for charges under the Species at Risk Act and the Canada National Parks Act, amounted to roughly $55,000 a tree.

Lake Louise’s lawyer argued the fine was ‘grossly disproportional and demonstrably unfit’ as a result of remediation efforts the resort took after the trees were cut down.

He asked for the court to either stay the charges or reduce the penalty to $200,000.

The resort has taken steps to ensure no other whitebark pine are cut down. Staff are better educated and the 7,000 whitebark pine within the resort area are now marked.

But the Appeal judge rejected the request and said the trial judge did not make an error handing out the fine.

“The penalties imposed by the sentencing judge for these offences were certainly more than a slap on the wrist,” wrote Justice Barbara Romaine in a decision released Wednesday.

“An observer, uninformed of the circumstances of the case, may consider the penalties to be excessively high given that the offence involved flora and not animals,” she said.

But, Romaine said, this was not a case of an “otherwise good environmental citizen making an isolated mistake”.

“A mid-sized corporation operating in a national park failed to train and inform employees, leading to the destruction of a number of individuals of an endangered species whose extinction would have impact throughout the subalpine ecosystem,” she wrote.

The agreed statement of facts in the case said that in 2013 a trail crew, consisting of six employees including a supervisor, began cleaning up, doing fence work and trimming and removing some trees on Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski resort.

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

The five-needle whitebark pine provides food and habitat for animals, as well as helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.

The trees exist at high elevations in western North America at, or close to, the treeline. They have been growing on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Black Press file photo
COVID claims 25 more Albertans

100-year-old among those who died

An x-ray tech demonstrates the new equipment in use. (Photo Submitted)
New diagnostic equipment now operational at Sylvan Lake AACS

In August it was announced that Stephen and Jacqueline Wuori donated $850,000 to AACS

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Red Fraggle, one of Jim Henson Company’s Fraggle Rock characers, is shown at Time To Play Holiday Show, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in New York. The Jim Henson Company says production has officially started in Calgary on a reboot of the original 1980s children’s puppet series, which was filmed in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Lennihan
‘Fraggle Rock’ children’s puppet series reboot starts production in Calgary

A spokesperson says the new series will stream on Apple TV plus

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Most Read