While Environment Canada rejected Maligne Tours’ proposal for a 66-room luxury hotel at Jasper National Park’s Maligne Lake the company’s bid for 15 tent cabins is still pending approval. That has some environmental groups seeing red — enough for lawyers from Ecojustice to launch a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Jasper Environmental Association.

The suit alleges that just by considering the tent cabins the federal government is ignoring its own policy which prohibits any new overnight commercial accommodations in the park except within the townsite of Jasper.

“This approval is in our clients’ view unlawful and sends a troubling signal about Parks Canada’s commitment to the ecological protection provisions within its own management plan” says Ecojustice attorney Fraser Thomson.

Environmentalists fear any new commercial development in the park would increase human traffic and threaten already fragile ecosystems that support dwindling populations of grizzly bears and mountain caribou. They also worry approval of the Maligne Tours proposal could create a precedent that eases approval of further development in other national parks.

The federal government has previously said the timing of its decision on the tour company’s plans for the area including increased boat tours depends on how quickly it submits a revised proposal sans luxury hotel or whether it wants to proceed at all.