Sunshine’s Site Guidelines

If you follow this blog, or just ride at Sunshine, you should care and you should participate in the Site Guidelines review, and you only have until August 19, 2018, to do so.

What are “Site Guidelines”?

Think of “Site Guidelines” as Sunshine’s Master Plan. Then realize that once submitted, reviewed and approved, they can NEVER be changed for at least 42 YEARS. They will control EVERYTHING Sunshine might want to do for the rest of my life, and probably yours, maybe even your kids, and a good portion of your grandkid’s too. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Any new lifts;
  • Any new runs;
  • Any new buildings, warming huts, restaurants or day lodges;
  • Any new terrain;
  • Any improvements to access or parking;
  • Any terrain modifications, such as improving traverses;
  • Access to Delerium Dive, the Wild West and the South Side Chutes

It’s the whole ball of wax. If it isn’t in the Site Guidelines, it can never happen.

Why are Site Guidelines a topic now?

Because Parks Canada circumvented the proper process and made it one.

Parks manages the 4 ski areas within the Parks under a 2005 document called the Ski Area Management Guidelines; you can read that here. It’s a process that has been used by Norquay, Marmot and Louise already, who have approved Site Guidelines. The document says that Parks and Sunshine will collaborate to develop proposed Site Guidelines, which was the process followed by Norquay, Marmot and Louise.

Except that Parks Canada is NOT following the process for Sunshine. It’s no secret that Sunshine and Parks Canada aren’t the best of friends. Parks Canada wrote their own set of Site Guidelines for Sunshine, and then forced the process by putting them into the public domain for comment. This triggered a 60 DAY review process (60 days to review something that will last for 42 years. Think about that). Rather than collaborating with Sunshine, Parks Canada is treating Sunshine like any other third party. Sunshine can make comments, but they will just be taken into consideration when Parks Canada rules on the document Parks Canada wrote. That’s not supposed to be the way it works, but Parks has stopped being collaborative.

Are the things Parks and Sunshine agree on?

Yep. A lot, actually. They have been negotiating on this for a while, after all. They agree on:

  • An 8,500 skiier cap (it’s currently 6,000).
  • Potential future development of certain bits of terrain like Harris Hill, parts of Goat’s Eye, and elsewhere.
  • There are a couple of future potential lifts that they agree on;
  • The ski out needs help;
  • A second lift is needed from the parking lot to the ski area;
  • Parking sucks and has to be fixed;
  • More commercial spaces is needed;
  • There are sections of Sunshine’s lease that will never be used and could be relinquished;
  • The Dive, the West and parts of the South Side Chutes outside the lease boundary need a formal Licence of Occupation. Currently, there’s nothing other than agreement regarding avalanche control.

What don’t they agree on?

  • How to fix parking. They don’t agree at all.
  • The route of the second access lift. Parks wants to go up the existing ski out with a 32 tower lift that parallels the Gondola to Goat’s Eye (how that helps the ski out, I don’t know). Sunshine wants to take a 1-tower tram from the parking lot up to Sunshine Coast around the top of Old Chute.
  • Summer use. This one’s REALLY interesting, because Parks Canada wants to put tons of restrictions in place to control summer use, and Sunshine wants to shut down summer use of the Hotel and Sunshine Meadows area entirely. Parks is arguing for restrictions to enhance ecological integrity of the meadows. Sunshine’s proposals do more for ecological integrity than that.
  • How much additional commercial space is needed.
  • Area to relinquish. For instance, Parks wants to cut out a section skier’s LEFT of Bye Bye Bowl that leads down into the Howard Douglas drainage that is inside the lease but currently unused (if you went down there, you would have a long uphill walk back to Cat Corner). Sunshine wants to put a lift in there eventually. Also, Parks wants to remove Side Door (skier’s left off Meadow Park from the Elbow) from the lease. Sunshine wants to eventually put a lift from Wolverine Base to Wawa Top and eventually develop runs in that part of the lease.

See all that area to the left? That’s the Howard Douglas drainage.

What can YOU do?

First off, READ the management guidelines and the two proposals. The Guidelines are here. Parks Canada’s is available here. Sunshine’s is available here. I recommend reading them in that order. Sunshine’s only focusing on differences, not on what they agree on. Parks Canada’s backgrounders help you understand where they are coming from, and how they are measuring success. Sunshine then takes just a few issues and expands on them.

Second, PROVIDE FEEDBACK. Write a letter, and turn it into a PDF. The Parks site has a “Contact us by Email” tab that enables you to send them a document (interestingly, it doesn’t allow you to actually send them an e-mail). If you want to be nice, copy Sunshine, but comments directed to them won’t matter. I worked in the Government. An actual letter from an actual citizen is taken pretty seriously; a form letter is not. Sunshine has suggested talking points on their site, but I would ignore them and state your truth. You want to REALLY stir the pot? Send your letter to the Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna as well.

Third, FILL IN PARKS SURVEY. On their website, Parks has a survey. I suggest you tell them that having a 60 day window for a 42 year decision is ridiculous, and that not having Open Houses in Calgary and Edmonton is ridiculous (Parks held them for Norquay, Marmot and Louise, but not for Sunshine). But don’t let me tell you what to say.

Fourth, TELL YOUR RIDING FRIENDS to provide feedback. This is summer. No one is paying attention to sking, so you need to wake them up. Use Social Media. Use tin cans and strings for all I care.

I honestly don’t care if you agree or disagree with what Parks Canada or Sunshine is proposing. But I do care that you voice an opinion. For a change, you’ll get to control what Sunshine will look like into the future.

Please participate. You have until August 19, 2018, which is 17 days from now (Parks Canada already chewed up the first 43 days of this screwed up process).