Alberta ski resort penalized for death: Sunshine Village must pay $250,000

CALGARY - Sunshine Village Corp. has been ordered to pay more than $250,000 in fines and penalties in connection to the 2004 death of a ski hill worker.

Judge Manfred Delong handed down the sentence Wednesday in Banff provincial court after he found the company guilty in January of failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers.

Sunshine was found not guilty of three additional charges it faced under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The charges stemmed from an Aug. 31, 2004, incident on the Mount Standish chair lift when 25-year-old lift maintenance helper Karl Stunt sustained a head injury that led to his death six days later.

"A young man of great promise who was obviously loved by friends and family died from what I characterize as the result of momentary inattention or carelessness of three employees of Sunshine Village at the same time," Delong said. ". . . In my view, the level of negligence of the accused corporation was more than minimum, but not high."

The judge ordered Sunshine to pay a $5,000 fine plus $750 victim fine surcharge. He penalized the company further to establish a $250,000 endowment in Karl Stunt's memory at Selkirk College in B. C. Selkirk is the only college in Canada that offers programming directly related to the ski industry.

Karl's father, Bill Stunt, said it is a relief for his family to be at the end of the legal process, but the fact it has taken so long sends a bad message about workplace safety.

"It is ridiculous," Stunt said. "I have nothing but respect for the inspectors and prosecutors, but the fact it took five years is beyond the pale."

A spokesman for Alberta Employment and Immigration said safety investigations are complex and take time to complete before going to court.

Last year, there were 22 companies convicted of breaking worker safety laws, with a total of $5 million in penalties handed out.
But the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour says he believes delays stem from the province not putting enough resources into occupational health and safety.

"The bottom line is they don't put their money where their mouth is in terms of either inspection or enforcement," Gil McGowan said.
Sunshine Village could not be reached for comment.

Calgary Herald, Thurs July 30 2009
Byline: Tanya Foubert, Rocky Mountain Outlook

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