Canadian resort operators take government to court over new rules.

Four resort operators in Canada's Banff and Jasper national parks-Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Marmot Basin, and Banff Mount Norquay-are taking the Canadian federal government to court to block new rules that will restrict ski-area development.

The government's new rules will halt development, including parking lots and lift projects, that were previously approved. The rules hope to control the growth of resort visitors to these resorts, and ban any future development that would attract more people than allowed under federal guidelines.

“These changes have a real threat of seeing these areas become non-viable if they can't remain competitive and keep their facilities up-to-date,” says Dave Day, a spokesman for the four resorts.

Canada's Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and Andy Mitchell, the secretary of state for national parks, are named as respondents in the judicial action. Both declined to comment when contacted for this story.

“What he Mitchell is saying is, 'Too bad you've got an approved plan, I'm making an arbitrary decision that you can't do it,'” says Day. “It's arbitrary and it's arrogant. Whether it's a nuclear plant or a ski lift, they are subject to the same level of environmental assessment in Canada. We now have a approval process that will take longer than the plan will take to build.”

Jon Havelock, Alberta's provincial minister of tourism, has written to Mitchell to intervene in the case, but the resorts are within federal jurisdiction.

“The minister's own management study says Jasper and Banff are the cornerstones of winter tourism, yet they are making decisions that have the potential to undermine that business,” says Day. “You've really got to question the motives.” -Monica Andreeff