Tag Archives: Pam Veinotte

Sunshine Village DENIES Parking Activities On Sunshine Access Road & Points Finger at Parks Canada!

Sunshine Village Watch has received an email from Field Law in Calgary.  The email denies that Sunshine Village conducts parking activities on the access road.  The email claims that Sunshine Village is only helping Parks Canada to conduct safe parking on the access road.

Sunshine Village’s position therefore, is that Parks Canada is conducting a parking operation on the Sunshine Village access road and that the operation is Parks Canada’s responsibility and Sunshine Village is only helping.  The same email denies responsibility by Sunshine Village for garbage left behind as a result of the parking operations.

Sunshine Village is taking a legal position that Parks Canada, the Government of Canada and the Canadian taxpayers are responsible for all aspects of this parking operation on the Sunshine access road including environmental clean-up and public liability.

Parks Canada has neither confirmed nor denied that it is wholly responsible for the 8km long parking operations on the Sunshine Village access road and that Canadian taxpayers are funding the operation and any environmental or liability burden.

Field Law email:

Name: Field Law

Email: lmacfarlane@fieldlaw.com

Comment: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

To the administrator(s) of the www.sunshinevillagewatch.com website,

We are solicitors for  Sunshine Village Corporation (“Sunshine”), which was very concerned to discover that the administrator(s) of this website, www.sunshinevillagewatch.com, (the “Website”) have been, since at least as early as April 24, 2011 and continuing to date publishing content that defames Sunshine. The content on the Website contains false statements about our client which have and continue to cause its reputation to be lowered in the eyes of the public. Sunshine has, and will continue, to suffer significant damage as a result of the defamatory content published on the Website.

The examples of defamatory content on the Website are too numerous to reproduce in the space provided for our comments. The following is but one example of the defamatory content published on the Website.

On May 21, 2012, the administrator(s) of the Website posted a defamatory article to the Website titled “Sunshine  Village  Squatters Leave Garbage Mess!”, concerning Sunshine’s parking operations, stating in part the following:

“Will Parks Canada make the Sunshine Village corporate squatters clean up their mess in the Healy Creek Valley of Banff National Park. And will they make them clean up this shameful eyesore BEFORE the summer tourist season? Or is allowing a private corporation to litter a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site part of the new Parks Canada mandate?

Now that the snow has melted in the Healy Creek Valley, the environmental price of Sunshine Village parking expansion is more than evident…

[A photograph of Ralph Scurfield is posted with the following caption posted below the photograph] – ‘Ralph Scurfield – President/CEO Sunshine Village – squatting on public land for profit’

Ralph, John and Sergei Scurfield are the owners of Sunshine Village which has been squatting on public land in Banff National Park all winter. Once again this past winter Sunshine Village has helped itself to public land in a Canadian national park and used it as a parking lot and a dumping ground…”

The information contained in the articles states or implies that Sunshine is encouraging or conducting chaotic, unsafe and environment-harming activity on the access road to the parking lot to its Ski Resort. It states or implies that Sunshine is discarding trash and waste along the access road. These statements, express or implied, are untrue, as Sunshine has not converted the access road into a parking lot and is not parking cars or conducting any activity but rather works with Parks Canada to improve safe parking on the access road. Sunshine does not promote its customers to park on any lands other than those leased by it, however, it does not have the ability or responsibility to control where its customers ultimately decide to park their vehicles. Sunshine is dedicated to environmental stewardship, which includes retrieval of waste. It cannot control or monitor  others’ discarding of waste on the access road.

The sunshinevillagewatch.com domain name has been registered through Domains By Proxy, which has afforded anonymity to the owners of the domain, who we expect are the same individuals administering the Website. We demand that the identities of the administrator(s) of the Website be provided to us forthwith, including the names, mailing addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and IP addresses of all administrators of the Website.

We further demand that all defamatory content be immediately removed from the Website and the administrator(s) immediately cease and desist publishing or allowing to be published any content on the Website which defames our client or allowing any such content to be published in the future.

Our client takes any violation of its rights extremely seriously and is dedicated to enforcing such rights and protecting  its reputation. We have been instructed  to take all available legal action to obtain the identities of the administrator(s) of the Website and the owners of the domain name.

In the circumstances we require a response disclosing the identifying information of the administrator(s), outlined above, as well as confirmation that the defamatory content has been removed from the Website  within five (5) days from the date of this email.

Yours Truly,

Field Law

Time: Wednesday July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm IP Address: 208.118.89.114 Contact Form URL: http://sunshinevillagewatch.com/contact-us/

Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

PARKING ACTIVITIES (NOT?)
Below are two photos of Sunshine Village employees and a Sunshine Village bus conducting activity  and directing Sunshine Village customers to park on “lands other than those leased by it”.  These photos were taken almost 8km beyond the lease boundary.  The pictures show Sunshine Village staff directing and parking customer vehicles on the access road.   The waiting Sunshine Village bus then transports the customers to the ski area which is kilometers away.  The email denies that Sunshine Village does this.

DUMPING (NOT?)
Below is a video of a Sunshine Village truck and driver conducting dumping activity by Sunshine Village on “lands other than those leased by it”.  The email denies that Sunshine Village does this.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Below is a video documenting the remnants of a large avalanche which swept across the access road in very close vicinity to parking  related signs placed by Sunshine Village.  The signs are numbered in sequence along the full length of the access road and coincide with Sunshine Village bus pick-up and drop-off locations.  

POST-AVALANCHE SAFETY
Following the avalanche documented in the above video, Parks Canada retroactively placed “no parking” signs in the same area as the numbered signs placed by Sunshine Village.  The Parks Canada signs indicate the reason for “no parking” to be the avalanche hazard.  The photographs below document the placement of the Parks Canada signs and the Sunshine Village signs.  

APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS
Although the email states Sunshine Village is “not parking cars or conducting any activity” and “does not promote its customers to park on any lands other than those leased by it”, that position appears to be clearly contradicted by Sunshine Village spokesperson Crosbie Cotton who, according to the Rocky Mountain Outlook, stated the following in March 2012 regarding access road parking .  Cotton clearly states that Sunshine Village is providing parking services and managing the operation.

[Cotton] said Sunshine works hard to give people safe parking, provides a shuttle service, trained parking attendants, improved signage and does not allow parking in avalanche zones.

“A few times a year, during peak seasons like the Family Day weekend, Christmas and Easter, there’s parking on the road and we’re trying to manage the best of a bad situation,” he said.

In the same article, then Banff National Park Superintendent Pam Veinotte confirmed that Sunshine Village uses the road to park vehicles, again contradicting the position stated in the email. 

“We certainly recognize the parking challenges that do occur at Sunshine, but we have to remember it really is tied to peak days, which are really about 10 times a year,” said Veinotte.

“The use of the roadway is a short-term measure and we recognize the short-term situation isn’t ideal, but it’s during the development of the site guideless and long-range plans that we’ll get to the long-term solution.”

WAWA RIDGE FACILITY

Sunshine Village has a radio repeater facility located on Wawa Ridge well outside the lease area boundary.  This facility is serviced by Sunshine Village staff and contractors using snowmobile and helicopter access.  The email did not state if this facility was also for the purposes of helping Parks Canada.

Map showing areas outside its lease boundary that are or have been impacted by the Sunshine Village operations

LEASE DOCUMENT
Sunshine Village Lease (PDF)

The Fine Line Between Safety And Disaster

The difference between safety and tragedy is often a fine line.  Especially when it comes to avalanches.  Especially in seasons of unusual avalanche activity.  Especially when an area intended for use as a roadway is instead an intensive use parking area and the agency responsible for public safety turns its back on the situation.

Here’s the proof !!

On March 6th, 2012 a large destructive avalanche hit the Sunshine access road following control work by Parks Canada public safety staff.  The following video demonstrates the reality that the March 6th avalanche took down mature timber and hit and buried the road well beyond the usual path.

.

A few days after this avalanche the March 15, 2012 issue of the Rocky Mountain Outlook reported Crosbie Cotton (Director of the National Parks Ski Areas Association)  stating that Sunshine Village “works hard to give people safe parking” and “does not allow parking in avalanche zones”.

Then Parks Canada hastily placed signage prohibiting parking in the same area that had previously been used by Sunshine Village to park guest vehicles and pick-up and drop-off shuttle bus passengers.   In the following photos it’s still possible to see the Sunshine signage designating parking area #3 right in the middle of the new no-parking signs. (Click on thumbnails for larger images)

 

 Parks Canada Parking Prohibition Signage

The photo above shows the Sunshine Village parking locator sign (#3) situated BETWEEN the two Parks Canada signs that were placed to prohibit parking in the avalanche path that ran on March 6th, 2012.  Prior to that, Sunshine Village regularly parked guest cars and operated a shuttle bus stop in the area designated by sign #3.

This is what happens when informal “arrangements” take the place of formal transparent public process and due diligence.  Lines get blurred, accountability and responsibility gets fudged and the buffer between safety and disaster gets narrowed and lost.

The road is NOT intended to be used for intensive parking and shuttle bus stops.  It is intended to be used as a ROAD (go figure!!) with vehicles passing THROUGH avalanche areas and NOT being delayed, stopped and parked bumper-to-bumper in their vicinity.   The avalanche path was there all along and the potential hazard was as well.  Fortunately, this potentially KILLER avalanche came down as part of planned avalanche control work when the road was closed and when it was not being used as a parking lot.  But things could easily have been different.  Avalanches don’t always wait for human triggers and Sunshine’s parking lot attendants are not trained to evaluate avalanche hazards.

The avalanche hazard is only ONE of the public safety issues arising from the parking expansion.  There are others, as well as environmental, wildlife and visitor experience issues.  All of which Parks Canada ignores in its effort to bend over backwards to accommodate Sunshine Village.

This problem would not exist of Sunshine Village abided by the terms of its lease and Parks Canada policies.  The public roadway is outside Sunshine Village’s operational lease boundaries and well beyond the allowed parking footprint.   Parks Canada is responsible for regulating the road and protecting public safety but the agency instead turns a blind eye to Sunshine’s activities, makes excuses for the corporation and allows private corporate profits to supersede public safety due diligence.

Banff National Park superintendent Pam Veinotte describes the situation as a “short-term measure” that “isn’t ideal”.   That’s one way of spinning it.   The truth is it has been going on for years.

When will Parks Canada put public safety, environmental protection, wildlife and visitor experience FIRST ??  When will Parks Canada enforce the Sunshine lease agreement and its own public policy guidelines instead of solely serving private corporate interests on the Sunshine access road?  Don’t hold your breath – it’s becoming clear where Parks Canada priorities rest.

Meanwhile, heads up – next season, think twice before blindly accepting where a Sunshine Village parking lot attendant tells you is safe to park the family car….and the people in it.

Please sign the Avaaz petition to make Parks Canada enforce the lease and its own policy on the Sunshine access road

Sunshine Village Expansion Negotiations Confirmed

Canadians who may have thought the issue of ski area expansion in Banff National Park was over, are in for a rude wake up call.  It’s back !!

Only weeks after Peter Kent (Federal Minister of Environment) approved the development of Brewster’s Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper National Park, media statements from both Sunshine Village and Parks Canada appear to confirm that negotiations are under way for expansion at Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort in Banff National Park.

In response to questions from the Rocky Mountain Outlook, Crosbie Cotton (Director of the National Parks Ski Area Association) stated that

“We’re in negotiations with Parks Canada to try and come up with what the future resort looks like. It’s premature to discuss anything we might be looking at.”

By “premature” he probably means he would prefer the public only gets a few weeks for comments, as occurred with the Glacier Discovery Walk.  Asked about internal plans at Sunshine Village to build a lift on Wawa Ridge, Cotton prevaricated.

 “I don’t think so. I don’t know if it’s in, I don’t know if it’s out,”

He wasn’t asked if it was in or out, he was asked if Sunshine has been looking at the option.  The answer to that should be easy – Yes or No!!

Wawa Ridge is at least a kilometre beyond the current lease boundary and the Wawa skyline is visible from the vicinity of the town of Banff.  Sunshine Village already has radio equipment installations located on Wawa Ridge that are routinely serviced by snowmobile and helicopter.  Internal planning discussions at Sunshine have included lift access to that area and the cutting of additional ski runs in the “Side-door” and ‘Back-Door” areas.

Cotton also tried to downplay the issue of Sunshine’s expanded parking operations on the public access road.

“A few times a year, during peak seasons like the Family Day weekend, Christmas and Easter, there’s parking on the road and we’re trying to manage the best of a bad situation,”

Cotton maybe needs to learn to count.  Sunshine uses the road for parking far more than a “few times a year”.  He  blamed the problem on previous governments instead of acknowledging that the problem actually exists because Sunshine has increased lift capacity far in excess of it’s parking capacity, and has failed to adopt the parking solutions and limitations established in the 2006 Parks Canada Ski Area Management Guidelines.

Consistent with what appears to be the new pro-development mandate at Parks Canada, Pam Veinotte (Banff National Park Superintendent) simply parroted Cotton’s disingenuous spin (much as her counterpart in Jasper did with the Glacier Discovery Walk even before it was “approved”).  If Veinotte actually believes Sunshine is only using the road for parking “about 10 times a year” she needs to get out of the office more.  It’s only a short drive and then she can hop on a Sunshine shuttle bus for the rest of the way to enjoy this so-called “world-class experience” with real park visitors.

Notably, Cotton is ruling out solutions, like a parkade, which would maintain the current footprint as is required by the 2006 guidelines, which means they must want to destroy more wilderness in Banff National Park to create a “solution” to accommodate the hundreds of additional cars that are parked at times half-way from Sunshine to Banff .  A parkade costs money while environmental destructive “solutions” are cheaper.   Sunshine has created the “problem” and now appears to be using the “problem” to demand more concessions from Parks Canada.  Parks Canada is conveniently allowing the problem to grow year after year and appears on-track to eventually use this fact to approve more deforestation, earthworks and environmental destruction in the Healy Creek Valley.

Both Sunshine Village and Parks Canada appear to have no regard at all for the 2006 guidelines that clearly state the following (emphasis added).  If Parks Canada won’t abide by and apply its own policies how can anyone trust anything the agency says about this or any other development in any national park in the country?

Use of mass transit will be the primary means to address parking issues. Parking lot reconfiguration and expansion within the existing Developed Area can be considered within terrain and ecological limitations. New skiing parking nodes will be prohibited. Use of existing parking lots off-site can be considered, preferably in the communities, in order to support shuttle bus services.

What this proves is that the problem is never going to go away.  The real problem is that Sunshine Village can’t and won’t live within its agreed lease area boundary.  It wants more and more and more.  The other problem is that Parks Canada has truly forgotten what its mandate is and can’t be trusted to draw the line.  In fact Parks Canada is helping Sunshine Village to ignore and avoid the agency’s own public policy.  By allowing Sunshine Village to encroach on what should be pristine protected land and/or to use a public road as an 8km long parking lot, Parks Canada is allowing unofficial expansion and “historical use” that will make it much easier to rubber-stamp environment-damaging “solutions” later on.

It’s time to wake up and draw the line – Brewster’s Glacier Discovery Walk is just the beginning of a new era of commercial development in Canada’s national parks and an ominous warning of bad things to come.  The issue of ski area expansion in Banff National Park is clearly back at Sunshine Village and it’s under negotiation right NOW!

YOU CAN HELP STOP THIS NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
What can you do today to help protect the future of Banff National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)?

  1. Please sign the Avaaz petition to demand that Parks Canada draws the line with Sunshine Village.
  2. Spread the word via Social Media – and please link to this page.

Thank you.