Reduce the impact: Transportation

Reduce the impact: transporting people to and from resorts

As stewards of the land, Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) members take a serious responsibility to protect the biodiversity in each area, minimizing pollution and reducing their impact on the land, wildlife, air and water. Throughout the winter, we are highlighting leading examples from various resorts and the steps they are taking to reduce their impact on the environment.

Moving skiers and boarders up the mountain is one of the rudimentary elements of running a ski area. However, there’s another element of moving people that is being explored as resorts look at ways to reduce the environmental impact of guests travelling to and from their destination.

Resort access and transportation has evolved to become a significant component of ski areas with a simple goal: reduce the volume of cars on the roads, especially in wildlife corridors. This is vital for most areas, including those located in national parks in the Rocky Mountains.

At Lake Louise Ski Area, a concerted effort has been made to provide shuttles to move people from key locations around the town. Shuttles are provided to get staff to their jobs at the ski resort, and additional buses are available for guests wanting to maneuver between the ski area, Chateau Lake Louise and the village. The message is clear. Park your vehicle and use mass transportation to explore the beauty of the area.

It’s a message echoed by Mount Norquay ski area that has been in the transportation business since 2011, providing a free bus service from Banff to the base of the mountain. In fact, all of the Ski Big 3 properties (Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay) offer free transit with a lift ticket to get to the mountain of their choice.

Approximately 10 per cent of overall winter visits to Norquay are on the mass transit system — which is just the beginning of what this resort is planning on the transportation front.

Long-term plans includes intercept parking lots in Banff (the first one opened in July 2019), and future train from Calgary.

“We need to make the system even better by getting guests off the road which will lessen the environmental footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the ecological integrity of the area,” explains Andre Quenneville, General Manager of Mt. Norquay Ski Resort.

The Rockies aren’t the only locations with transportation initiatives. In urban areas, like Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, visitors can access the resort by public transportation in addition to a free summer shuttle service from downtown Vancouver to the resort.  In Edmonton, with the expansion of Light Rail Transit, the Edmonton Ski Club will be on the new route beginning in late 2020.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort, located on Vancouver Island, has had a long-standing bus transportation program on the Strathcona Parkway. In June 2019, Mt. Washington officially joined the NSAA Climate Challenge, a U.S.-based initiative focused on reducing the impact of ski areas on the environment.

“We operate in a pristine alpine environment,” says Dean Prentice, General Manager of Mt. Washington. “We’d like to help keep it that way for generations.”

Find out more about Responsible Stewardship in the Ski Industry.