We love winter. There’s nothing that brings us more joy than squeaky snow under our skis or crisp, clear skies overhead. Snow is a magical, precious thing and we are grateful to have it in abundance here in Canada.
But winters are at risk of getting warmer and shorter if businesses, like ours, don’t make sustainability a priority. Protecting our winters and living in harmony with our more than human neighbours are both goals we must strive towards to honour our place here in beautiful Banff National Park.
While spinning lifts and serving poutine may be what you see on the slopes, behind the scenes SkiBig3 resorts work hard every season to develop cleaner, greener business practices. While we still have miles to go, here are seven environmental facts about SkiBig3 and sustainable resort developments you might not know.
1) Farming natural snow
The owner of Banff Sunshine likes to call himself a snow farmer – a true Albertan that’s for sure! Instead of making snow, Banff Sunshine relies solely on Mother Nature to deliver snow to cover all three of its mountains during the seven-month ski season. Using 25 kilometres of fencing and snowcats to capture natural snowdrifts and push them around the resort, Banff Sunshine is proud to have one of the most extensive snow farming programs in North America.
2) Protecting Healy Creek from parking lot runoff
While making major improvements to the base area in 2021 (like building 250 new parking spots…) Banff Sunshine seized the opportunity to retrofit its parking lot with an environmentally friendly stormwater management system. Now, all the runoff, sediment, and hydrocarbons caused by cars are filtered through an underground network of OGSs (oil/grit separators) to make sure nearby Healy Creek stays clean and healthy.
3) Powering Sunshine with sunshine
Did you know you can find Banff’s largest solar panel array installed at the Banff Sunshine Village Transportation Center? The new 60.2 kW solar panel system is the largest privately-owned system in the Town of Banff (roughly 3,250 square feet). The green energy generated from Banff Sunshine’s solar panel array will represent a reduction of over 40 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis, the equivalent of planting 1200 trees.
4) Giving back grizzly habitat
As part of Lake Louise Ski Resort’s long-range plan with Parks Canada, sustainable land management has always been a key environmental priority. As part of this plan, approximately 669 hectares of ecologically sensitive land, and Grizzly bear habitat, were returned to Parks Canada. To put 669 hectares in context, this area was equivalent to the areas of the Mount Norquay and Marmot Basin ski areas combined (or more than 800 Canadian football fields!). Part of this land was unsuitable terrain, above Larch Express Chair. By giving this land back to Parks Canada, Lake Louise Ski Resort was able to open 480 acres of terrain in West Bowl sustainably. An area now loved by resort guests and a much more accessible and visited piece of resort terrain.
5) Switching to 100% renewable energy
Mt. Norquay is the first ski resort in Canada to make the switch to 100% clean, green energy with Bullfrog Power. Partnering with Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider, Mt. Norquay’s new green-powered status means it’s now running 100% on renewable power, generated from a blend of wind and low-impact hydropower from Canadian renewable energy facilities.
6) Buying a Mountain Collective Pass makes you a POW member
Did you know that when you purchase a Mountain Collective Pass you get a complimentary 1-year Protect Our Winters membership? With it, you become part of a passionate community of outdoor enthusiasts, professional athletes, and industry brands all with the shared goal of creating a future with healthy, safe, and resilient communities and outdoor playgrounds. Uniting the outdoor community together to advocate for policy solutions to climate change.
With your membership, you can easily connect with POW chapters in your region and get first-hand access to the latest environmental news, policies, and programs you can become a part of in your area.
7) Becoming an Ikon Passholder supports Protect Our Winters
Joining forces with other industry brands invested in preserving our winters for future adventure seekers, Ikon Pass has also partnered with Protect Our Winters. Like Mountain Collective, they are proud to offer Ikon Passholders a 1-year $50 level membership to POW. This contribution enables POW to do its work at this critical time.
Ikon Passholder POW memberships also include POW die-cut stickers, 20% off POW merchandise, a monthly POW newsletter, and a subscription to the biweekly email newsletter “The Line”.
Want to learn more about sustainability efforts in Banff National Park?
Banff and Lake Louise are vibrant mountain communities committed to living in harmony with the natural world that surrounds them, uniquely positioned in Canada’s first national park. If you’d like to learn more about how the people and place co-exist in this special place, we encourage you to follow the links below.