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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Otter Co-op opens in east Abbotsford

New grocery store hosts grand opening on Monday morning

UFV grads of 2020 honoured in innovative ways

No convocation ceremony due to pandemic, but grads receive ‘celebration box’

Abbotsford Flea Market reopening on Sunday

Market has been closed since March 8 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Abbotsford City Hall re-opens for scheduled appointments

In-person meetings with staff can now be booked for the first time since March

Marshall Road upgrades eyed after apartment approved

City staff counted 44 U-turns in one day on side street near proposed development

BC Wildfire Service to conduct night vision trials for helicopters in South Okanagan

This technology could assist with future firefighting operations

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

Kamloops RCMP officer’s conduct under review after blackface jokes on social media

Meinke’s Instagram is private and it’s unclear when the posts were made

NHL says 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8

Positive rate for the league is just under 6%

Man charged in Rideau Hall crash had rifle, shotguns, high-capacity magazine: RCMP

Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Most Read