Parks Canada is being sued by a Rocky Mountain ski operator in a dispute over a parking lot deemed an avalanche risk.
Sunshine Village Corporation, operator of a well-known ski resort near Banff, Alta., is asking that a federal judge quash a government parking ban imposed due to hazard of falling snow.
“Clearly if skiers can’t park there it has a commercial impact,” said Kent Anderson, counsel for Sunshine Village.
The ski company has operated a resort on Crown-leased land in Banff National Park since 1981. Operators noted as many as 35 days every winter, often at Christmas and holidays, skiers fill overflow curb parking along a 7-km access road leading to the hill off the Trans-Canada Highway.
“On high-traffic days the parking lot at the gondola base does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all skiers,” the resort owner submitted in court documents; “When the Sunshine parking lots are full Sunshine staff has directed the public to make a U-turn and park on the access road.”
The ski resort maintains regular parking for 1700 vehicles; the access road holds another 400 cars.
However the Banff Park superintendent last year banned parking on the road and installed “Avalanche Zone” signs.
Sunshine Village Corp. asks that a judge quash the road parking ban, claiming the park superintendent had “incorrectly inflated the calculated avalanche risk”; “acted beyond his jurisdiction”; “failed to observe the principle of natural justice”; and “based his decision on erroneous findings”.
Counsel for the Government of Canada did not comment.
The Banff ski season runs some 190 days a year from November till spring.
By Paul Delahanty