Tourism versus environment: Development in Rocky Mountain national parks

Development in Rocky Mountain national parks

Parks Canada is proposing an $86-million bike trail in Jasper National Park that would run from the Jasper townsite to the Columbia Icefields. The agency says it’s an opportunity to expand visitor experiences and bring new people to the parks. Environmental groups call it another chip off the park’s environmental integrity.

Here’s a look at some other commercial and recreational developments in the Rocky Mountain national parks that have been proposed or built in recent years:

Ski hills: Parks Canada is updating its guidelines for ski hills for the first time in more than 10 years. Both Marmot Basin in Jasper and Lake Louise in Banff have suggested they might return unused parts of their leases in exchange for building new lifts elsewhere. Marmot’s request has been turned down. Lake Louise has also said it would like to build new warming huts and a mountaintop lodge.

Mount Norquay: A private company operates a via ferrata on this mountain near the Banff townsite. Visitors can experience an alpine climb and high-altitude walk harnessed into a cable secured to the rock face at a cost that starts at $139.

Maligne Lake: In February 2016, a Federal Court ruled that Parks Canada can consider new developments in national parks such as overnight tent cabins at Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park. However, there has been no formal proposal for the cabins since. A development for a luxury overnight lodge at the lake was denied by Parks Canada.

Columbia Icefields: For $25, visitors can walk out onto a glass-floored balcony to overlook the Columbian Icefields and the Sunwapta Valley 300 metres below. The development is owned by Brewster Travel Canada, which also runs tour buses in the parks.

Banff Legacy Trail: A 27-kilometre paved trail from the town of Canmore just outside Banff National Park to the Bow Valley Parkway opened in 2010.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected QuickList. An earlier version failed to include that Marmot’s ski hill request had been turned down. It also said Parks Canada was considering a proposal from a tour operator to allow overnight tent cabins at Maligne Lake.