Sunshine Village fights to keep roadside parking

Sunshine Village fights to keep roadside parking

Skiers are going to have to get up extra early next winter to find a parking spot at Sunshine Village.

Banff National Park hasn't backed down on a parking ban along the access road leading up to the ski hill, impacting about 500 overflow parking spaces.

"It's going to be a disaster, quite frankly," Dave Riley, the resort's chief operating officer, told The Calgary Eyeopener.

"I can't imagine how this is going to work. Our staff of 30 people who manage parking on the road aren't going to be there, and these people are going to show up…Where are they then going to go?"

'We just think this is the wrong decision'

The main lot at Sunshine Village fits 1,600 vehicles. The park and the ski hill are also at an impasse on building a parking garage to hold more.

The ski resort has filed a judicial review and set up a website asking concerned skiers to email parks officials.

"There are numerous places in Banff National Park where cars park on the road during peak times. So we just think this is the wrong decision," said Riley.

He added that Sunshine has suggested alternative locations where skiers could safely park without impacting sensitive areas.

Safety concern, says parks

Parks Canada issued a brief statement this week on the situation saying: "Visitor safety is of utmost importance to Parks Canada. It would not be appropriate to comment at this time as the matter is before the courts."

In a letter to the ski resort, parks staff offered more detail, saying the road is on a known avalanche path, even though it's considered a low-frequency risk and there is an avalanche control program in the park.

"Aside from the risk of avalanches, there's additional risk to the public — whether waiting for transit, walking or driving on the road — stemming from the fact the road was not designed to safely accommodate the mix of moving and parked vehicles and foot traffic that it sees in the winter season."

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener