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Who Won the Battle of Village Lake Louise? Park Planning, Tourism Development, and the Downhill Ski Industry in Banff National Park, 1964-1979 Open Access


Other title
Federal and Provincial Relations
Lake Louise
National Parks Policy
Social Activism
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chen, Qi
Supervisor and department
PearlAnn Reichwein
Examining committee member and department
Ens, Gerhard (History and Classics)
Reichwein, PearlAnn (Physical Education and Recreation)
Davidson, Judy (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation
Recreation and Leisure Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This study explores the history of stakeholder politics in the controversial debates over proposed plans for Village Lake Louise. A new ski resort village plan proposed for Banff National Park in 1971 triggered intense debate and mobilized protests from the Canadian public. Public consultation hearings attracted high participation and the proposal was ultimately turned down by the Government of Canada. The key proponents of the proposal were the National and Historic Parks Branch, Lake Louise Lifts Ltd. and Imperial Oil. Key opponents included National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada, Alpine Club of Canada, Bow Valley Naturalist Society, Environmental Law Association, as well as academics and members of the broader public. Using development to justify preservation was a rationale deeply entrenched in the philosophy of Canadian national parks administration and policy making. During the debate, Premier Peter Lougheed and his Alberta intergovernmental affairs minister Don Getty exercised a new provincialism that challenged Ottawa’s jurisdiction in national parks, further complicating the politics of development and tourism pertinent to Lake Louise. Federal Minister Jean Chretien responded with a rejection of the proposal and maintained national parks authority and control. Final victory for conservation advocates in 1972 was an unlikely outcome that warrants closer examination. The Village Lake Louise controversy is a significant turning point for Canada’s national parks as it activated huge public input that slowed commercial development in the Bow Valley resulting from compromise among different power forces, helped to formalize public consultation program in parks policy and challenged Ottawa’s control on Alberta National Parks. The project is based on archival and library research with collections at Library and Archives Canada, Whyte Museum of Canadian Rockies Archives, Provincial Archives of Alberta, and University of Alberta Library. The importance of the study is to contribute to a understanding of parks and conservation advocacy movements in Canadian civil society as well as ski industry tourism debates. By investigating the Village Lake Louise controversy, we see how the politics of environmental protection were linked to democratic process and engaged public participation, as well as better understand federal-provincial tensions over parks. This research on early conflicts between tourism development and environmental protection in Banff National Park informs our understanding of longstanding issues in Alberta parks. It contributes to a better understanding of environment and tourism concerns in Banff National Park, past and present.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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