Lake Louise Ski Area Ltd. (LLSA) was sentenced on November 30, 2018 to fines totalling $2.1 million for offences under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Canada National Parks Act (CNPA).
On December 4, 2017, LLSA pleaded guilty to one count of killing individuals of a wildlife species, namely Whitebark Pine, that is listed as an endangered species contrary to s. 32(1) of the SARA and one count of removing, defacing, damaging or destroying flora in a park without a permit, thereby committing an offence under s. 24(2) of the CNPA.
LLSA was charged in September 2015 after an investigation revealed that staff at the ski area cut down Whitebark Pine and additional trees, including fir, spruce, larch and lodgepole pine without permits. The trees were cut on the LLSA’s leasehold in Banff National Park.
The $2.1 million sentence includes $1.52 million to be credited to the Environmental Damages Fund for the protection of endangered species in Canada, with priority given to mountain forest ecosystems, pursuant to s. 105(k) of the SARA. The total also includes $500,000 to be credited to the Environmental Damages Fund for purposes related to protecting, conserving or restoring national parks, pursuant to s. 29.1(1) of the CNPA. The Environmental Damages Fund was created by the Government of Canada in 1995 for the purpose of court-ordered monies in environmental offences. It provides funding for projects that have a positive impact on the environment.
A remediation plan was also ordered by the court, which directs LLSA to plant and monitor Whitebark pine seedlings at the ski area as well as to educate visitors about Whitebark pine and the reasons for their decline. Prior to the sentence, LLSA made changes within the company to help prevent future similar incidents.
PPSC prosecutor Erin Eacott stated that “This was a significant offence in a National Park. It is the most serious conviction and largest sentence under the SARA to date. The sentence sends an important deterrent message to help protect species at risk, particularly in our National Parks.”
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is a national organization responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction in a manner that is free of any improper influence and that respects the public interest. The PPSC is also responsible for providing prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across Canada.