A youth group that spent six days deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. (Wildsight/Dave Quinn file)

Ski resorts selling mountain water is a risky move, critics say

Alberta allowed ski resort in Kananaskis Country to sell about 50 million litres to third party

Alberta’s decision to allow a ski hill in a provincial park to sell water it’s not using and have it trucked away sets a bad precedent that could restrict the province’s ability to react to climate change, environmentalists say.

“If we’re reallocating more and more water for commercial sale, that really ties up our choices and future generation’s choices,” Carolyn Campbell of the Alberta Wilderness Association said Friday.

In October, Alberta Environment approved an application from Fortress Mountain ski resort in Spray Valley Provincial Park — part of vast and popular mountain playground called Kananaskis Country — to change its water licence.

In the past, the resort was allocated just under 100 million litres of water a year from Galatea Creek for its kitchen and other on-site facilities.

The government agreed to amend that licence Oct. 25 to allow it to sell about half that amount to a third party. The water is to be pumped into trucks and driven away for sale.

Published reports have suggested it will be bottled and marketed as pure, glacier-fed water.

Campbell acknowledges 50 million litres is a small amount of water in the context of the Bow Valley watershed, which cities such as Calgary depend on.

But she’s concerned that allowing Fortress to sell water originally intended for local use could open the door for other companies to do the same.

“Now, does everybody who isn’t using every drop of their water upstream of Calgary get to sell it?” she asks.

Issuing water sale permits will make it harder for governments to manage water supply, she said — especially as climate change alters the region’s hydrology.

The Geological Survey of Canada has already warned that the Rocky Mountain glaciers that keep prairie rivers and streams full during low-snow years are on their way out.

“Every drop counts for the future given even natural variation without climate change,” Campbell said. “You layer climate change, it’s just a very concerning precedent for our mountain headwaters.

“Mountain ecosystems use every drop of water. It’s better to leave it in the stream rather that try to commodify it from a protected area.”

Fortress Mountain did not immediately return an emailed request for an interview.

Alberta Environment acknowledged it received concerns about Fortress’ application. All were dismissed, said press secretary Jess Sinclair.

“None of those who filed were found to be directly affected,” she said in an email. “None of the statements of concern filed were found to be valid.”

The department did not provide an interview.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Babchuk nominated as NDP candidate

Seeks to replace outgoing MLA Claire Trevena

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Mount Washington to open Dec. 4 with COVID-19 protocols in place

Reservations for some services, face coverings will be required

Quadra Island adds voice to provincial old growth protest

Demonstrators and phoning campaign put pressure on provincial government

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read