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CWSAA February 2024 Newsletter - Canada West Ski Areas Association

Earlier this week, CWSAA hosted a call with 24 community ski areas leaders from across Western Canada to share experience and solutions relating to their current winter.  The optimism, talent, and problem solving creativity for the purpose of enabling community recreation was nothing short of inspiring.
It was understood that there are currently very good conditions at many ski areas in western Canada, and there was agreement that this can be leveraged to keep participants engaged in the sport.  Existing reciprocal programs and or incremental partnerships between areas can be used to support all ski areas to this end.

Enhancing communication within our communities occupied one dimension of the meeting. Skiing is perceived as an expensive activity. While it's true that travel to global destinations incurs cost, snowsports in many community areas compares favourably with many other recreational activities and allows for full family participation.  It must also be understood by stakeholders that the cost to operate a ski area, whether it's not-for-profit or for-profit, has reached unprecedented heights.

Common to all areas was the intense amount of effort that staff and volunteers are putting into the current season to enable operations.  It was evident that opportunity exists to use introductory programs to attract new participants to the slopes.  New skiers and riders often value clear roads, mild temperatures, and entry-level terrain.  This may be the opposite for some traditional user groups.  Operators also cited opportunities around themed activities, entertainment, and non-ski activities such as tubing, Nordic skiing, and other outdoor adventures to drive visitation.

The group also highlighted the critical value of winter snowsports in our communities. Ski areas are important to the physical and emotional well-being of residents.  They also buttress recruitment and retention strategies by employers for professionals in many sectors such as healthcare.  Some ski areas make it a priority to routinely connect with their local government bodies to strengthen this message.  Reinforcing the recreational assets value to community is especially important if there may be a future need for support.

Operators also shared various mitigation techniques to maintain current and address future conditions.  These included snow farming, slope grooming strategies to optimize available snow coverage,  snowmaking technology in particular high efficiency electric options, and summer slope work.  Additionally, ski areas continue to expand recreational offerings and resort services to diversify their revenues and attract new patrons. By embracing these proactive measures, ski areas may enhance the overall experience for visitors while mitigating the impacts of unpredictable conditions.

Ski areas were cognizant of past weather cycles where low snow starts can be followed by strong mid and end of season snowfall illustrating that there lots of winter left.  These instances underscore the continued resilience of our industry and its ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions.

No doubt these conversations will be carried on at the Spring Conference in April.  But as call moderator and CWSAA Director Katherine Seleski reflected, it was a valued opportunity to confide and share experiences with industry peers, and bring forward new ideas into our daily operations.  Thank you to all those that participated.

   - Christopher Nicolson

Highlights of this month's newsletter...
  • 2024 Spring Conference
  • OITAF 2024
  • Responsible Stewardship Showcase
Mt Sima embraces Sustainability with E-Sled investments 
  • Grant Opportunities
    Several new and annual grants are available with very short timelines (within next 2 weeks), including Travel Alberta Product Development Fund; Tourism Saskatchewan Marketing & Events Partnership Program; BC Fairs, Festivals and Events Fund; and Tourism Growth Program in British Columbia. 
  • Continuing Education
    Selkirk College ski industry courses.
Return to Work Workshop with WorkSafeBC & go2HR - Feb 21.
Psychologically Safe Workplaces webinar recordings available. 
  • BC Land Act Amendments
BC Ski Areas are encouraged to learn more.

WorkSafeBC planned inspections

What you need to know. 
  • Membership Dues
2024/25 dues invoices will be sent by email within the week. 
  • Places & Faces 

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