What makes SkiBig3 a sustainable ski trip

Travel to Canada - What to Expect

What makes SkiBig3 a sustainable ski trip

Sustainable savvy travellers are more conscious about where their dollars are going. If sustainability is close to your heart, and you’re looking for a sustainable ski trip that shares your values, Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay absolutely deserve a spot on your travel bucket list.

1 ) Banff is a progressive mountain town

The resort town of Banff is working hard to become a model for sustainable modern mountain towns. The local government is helping businesses go ‘zero waste,’ while also reducing the town speed limit to 30 km/hour to encourage year-round cycling – including biking all winter. As of Oct. 1, 2022, the Town of Banff requires all non-residential entities to separate food scraps and recycling from the garbage.

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The local government of Banff is helping businesses go ‘zero waste,’ while also reducing the town speed limit to 30 km/hour to encourage year-round cycling. | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

2 ) Wildlife highway crossings keep animals safe

When the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) travelling through Banff National Park was approved for an upgrade to four lanes, Parks Canada devised a plan to minimize the impact on area wildlife. Transportation planners and scientists collaborated on a two-part solution that also addresses wildlife-vehicle highway collisions:

  • Fencing was installed on both sides of the twinned highway to keep large animals from wandering onto the highway
  • Wildlife underpasses and overpasses were constructed to connect vital habitats and help sustain healthy wildlife populations.

There are currently six overpasses and 38 underpasses on the TCH today. It is the largest highway mitigation complex in the world. To ensure the crossings were working as anticipated, Parks Canada began tracking animal movement in 1996. Though it took up to five years for some species, like grizzly bears, to begin using wildlife crossing structures, most species are now using them to safely cross the TCH. In fact, wildlife-vehicle collisions have dropped by more than 80 percent since fencing and crossing structures were introduced. Wildlife crossing research and monitoring are still in effect today, making this the longest ongoing program of its kind in the world.

Did you know: human use of overpasses is prohibited in Banff National Park? Researchers have found that when people use crossings, animals won’t.

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There are currently six overpasses and 38 underpasses on the TCH today for wildlife. | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

3 ) Banff Sunshine farms snow, it doesn’t make it

Banff Sunshine has long been a leader in snow farming – collecting natural snow rather than turning to man-made methods – thanks to the heaps of powder it receives each season (up to 9 m/30 feet). In fact, Banff Sunshine is known for having “Canada’s Best Snow” and the ideal place to plan a sustainable ski trip. The resort uses 25-30 km (15-19 miles) of fencing, custom-built by trail crews prior to each season, to capture natural snowdrifts across its three mountains. Snowcats then push the “captured” snow where it’s needed most around the resort. Banff Sunshine has one of the most extensive snow-farming programs in North America. The resort operates just four snow-making machines early in the season to create a base in the lower ski-out and Ski & Snowboard School beginner areas.

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Banff Sunshine uses 25-30 km (15-19 miles) of fencing, custom-built by trail crews prior to each season, to capture natural snowdrifts across its three mountains. | Photo by Banff Sunshine

4 ) There’s a full-time environmental team at Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Ski Resort maintains a dedicated, full-time, year-round environmental team, including an environmental manager, environmental supervisor and wildlife ecologist to direct, manage and help maintain the resort’s sustainability efforts. Much of this effort is focused on wildlife, including protection for grizzly bears. Lake Louise Ski Resort goes to great lengths to provide and protect on-mountain bear habitats and wildlife corridors.

5 ) Mt. Norquay runs on 100% green energy

Mt. Norquay is the first ski resort in Canada to make the switch to 100% clean, green energy through a partnership with Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider. Mt. Norquay’s power is generated from a blend of wind and low-impact hydropower from Canadian renewable energy facilities. This also contributes to Bullfrog Power’s many community-based green projects across Canada. Other energy efficiency strategies implemented include changing lighting to LED or other more efficient options and using programable thermostats to make Mt. Norquay a sustainable ski trip destination.

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Mt. Norquay is the first ski resort in Canada to make the switch to 100% clean, green energy through a partnership with Bullfrog Power. | Image at the Lone Pine Pub by Rueben Krabbe

6 ) Resort developments protect vital waterways

While updating its base area parking in 2021 – including the addition of 250 spots – Banff Sunshine also seized the opportunity to retrofit the lot with an environmentally-friendly stormwater management system. Now all runoff, sediment and hydrocarbons from vehicles are filtered through an underground network of oil/grit separators (OGSs), ensuring nearby Healy Creek stays clean and healthy.

7 ) Land planning and habitat management take priority with new terrain

As part of Lake Louise Ski Resort’s long-range plan with Parks Canada, approx. 1,653 acres of ecologically sensitive land and grizzly bear habitat were returned to the national park. To provide perspective, the area was equivalent to Mt. Norquay and Marmot Basin ski areas combined. The effort allowed Lake Louise Ski Resort to open West Bowl in 2020-2021.

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Lake Louise Ski Resort opened West Bowl in 2020 by redistributing resort boundaries to give back important grizzy bear habitat to Parks Canada. | | Photo by Jeff Bartlett at Lake Louise Ski Resort

8 ) #NorquayNudge encourages a sustainable ski trip with zero waste

The #NorquayNudge is a campaign encouraging guests to consider waste management by reducing and reusing, including these initiatives:

  • Milk is cooled in thermoses rather than served in single-use containers.
  • Reusable chinaware and cutlery have replaced single-use options at dining outlets.
  • Straws have been phased out; biodegradable straws are available by request.
  • Beverages are served lid-less or in BYO reusable flasks or coffee mugs.

9 ) Efficient water usage at Banff Sunshine since 2002

In 2002, Banff Sunshine began an ongoing initiative to maximize the efficiency of its water supply and sewage treatment capabilities. To date, changes implemented include:

  • Installation of dual-flush toilets, water-free urinals, high-efficiency showerheads and low-flow faucet aerators at all on-mountain buildings
  • Metered faucets in public washrooms
  • Training of management and staff on efficient water use

10 ) Mt. Norquay planning for a more sustainable future

In recognition of its approaching 100th anniversary in 2026, the Norquay 100 Visiondetails creating a flagship purposeful travel experience that includes significant resort upgrades and sustainability efforts. The initiative will restore sensitive wildlife habitat, decrease Norquay’s built footprint, and modernize ski and sightseeing opportunities with energy-efficient lifts and the integration of new and heritage buildings to replace out-of-date facilities with more modern, sustainable ones.

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Mt. Norquay turns 100 years old in 2026! their Norquay 100 Vision announces a sustainable and modern update for the iconic resort. | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

No more Canadian travel restrictions

As of October 1, 2022, all Canadian COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, meaning this winter it’s easier than ever to book a ski trip to the Canadian Rockies. Border requirements including proof of vaccination, use of the ArriveCAN App, and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements have ended for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air or sea.

Book with flexibility all winter

Who doesn’t love flexibility? SkiBig3 offers a No Questions Asked Cancellation Policy, allowing for free itinerary changes and full cancellation refund on ski & stay packages up to 14 days from travel. Check out the latest deal on SkiBig3 Ski & Stay packages.

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