March 2021 Newsletter

March 24, 2021 Newsletter

CEO Confessions

The end of spring break brings the close of ski season for many areas in the west, others close following Easter, and some will operate into at least May.  Regardless of the date, there is no easy wind-down to this season.  The latest COVID numbers highlight the necessity of the careful oversight successfully provided by operators this season.  As importantly, the constant due diligence demonstrated that the ski sector can safely operate for the communities they serve.  The fact the ski sector is in this position is due to the tireless efforts of area operators, staff and the many industry suppliers and partners through this past winter.

CWSAA is fortunate to have the rock solid guidance and knowledge of its Board of Directors.  Support has been unwavering and Directors have been active and instrumental in initiatives this year.  There is one Board position, however, that takes up more time than most as immediate past Chairs Andre Quenneville and Steve Paccagnan can attest.  Amidst a pandemic, the time obligation of the Chair of the Board has been amplified to new heights.  Thankfully, Andy Cohen has been there in spades for the industry and Association.  Presumably he signed on to serve the Board, lend his extensive experience to strategic discussions, and contribute to the greater good of the industry.  I doubt however that anyone could fully entertain the scope of calls from the many time zones and regions, the barrage of correspondence he was expected to offer opinion on, the emotional energy required to consider critical industry decisions that directly impacted the start and continued operation of the western Canadian ski sector, and being a constant sounding board and limitless source of support for the CEO and other industry colleagues.  Even in a year of chaos, it was unusual for more than an hour to elapse before Andy responded to any CWSAA message.  And on top of that, Andy had his own team within RCR and Fernie to motivate, inspire, and lead through the unknown.  If you have a moment, please say thanks to Andy…your ‘volunteer’ Chair of the Board and Canada West Ski Areas Association.

In closing, and if you will allow me, there is also a small group I would like to thank personally via this platform.  Up until this week, it had been 13 months since I had last seen my team in person.  The daily and often hourly calls helped bridge the gap, and it is to the full credit of Dawn, Cynthia, and Bruno that they seamlessly adjusted to the new norm.  Over the past year each have continued to serve the industry and CWSAA with steadfast resilience and commitment.  My sincerest appreciation.


CWSAA Virtual Spring Conference

Conference Registration now open!

Click HERE to register and learn more about the conference.

Registration is only $20 per person.  Small ski areas under 20,000 visits per season may also select to enroll with a complimentary registration (available only until April 15).
After April 15, all registrants will be $35 per person.
All registration fee proceeds go to the Small Areas Assistance fund

We are extremely grateful to the Associate Members who have signed up as a Showcase Member for the conference.  Learn more about our sponsors >> HERE

The virtual conference has been organized into four streams: Risk & Safety, HR, Business, and Operations & Maintenance.

Human Resources Stream

The CWSAA HR Committee has been exceptionally engaged this past year and has built a robust stream of sessions for the spring conference largely due to the tremendous leadership of Committee Chair Helen Davies of Sun Peaks Resort (pictured right).  The HR Committee is a source of industry guidance, and provides a forum for sharing best practices on related topics.  Members may contact the CWSAA Office for more information and participation.

Lift & Operations Stream

The CWSAA Spring Conference has been developed to complement content with NSAA and the Rocky Mountain Lift Association conference.  The virtual platforms this spring provide a unique opportunity for all ski area staff to participate in a greater number and more diverse selection of technical session topics.

Specifically relating to Lift and Operations, the Rocky Mountain Lift Association virtual conference on May 3 – 6, 2021 provides exceptional content.  Program details will be released shortly.  Likewise the NSAA spring conference takes place on June 7 – 11, 2021.  See and for updates.

A reminder that Lift Courses 151, 152, and 153 are now available online.  More information on the Passenger Ropeways Courses from Selkirk College are available >> HERE.

The CWSAA spring conference is priced at $20 for members (complimentary for small ski areas) to engage as many ski areas as possible, and recognize the financial challenges of the past year.  The significant savings in registration and travel expenses for members allows for incremental participation in other industry forums.  The past year has demonstrated the value of virtual platforms by increasing the participation of staff from all regions of Canada West.  Looking ahead, on-line sessions and training will continue to be offered to members throughout the year.

Check out the CWSAA Spring Conference website >> HERE

Member Showcase: Kubera Payments, Diamond sponsor

Kubera Payments is proud to have been a CWSAA member since 2012 as the CWSAA does such great work for the ski industry!   The CWSAA is an amazing network for people who are passionate about the Ski industry to connect and make long lasting connections.  All members have benefited from their efforts working with health officials to make the 2020/2021 ski season Covid-19 safe and from government communication efforts.

CWSAA members may remember our team from previous conferences as we have attended the annual Spring Conference for the past 6 years.  The Spring Conference is always a highlight for us as we look forward to connecting with so many amazing people.  We are saddened this year to not have the opportunity to meet you all in person, but we are proud to be attending and sponsoring this year’s event virtually!

Kubera is a B.C. based company with our head office in Vancouver and another office in Nelson, nestled in the heart of the Selkirk mountains.  Our partners and clients can expect exceptional support for all of your processing requirements from our dedicated local team.  Our team is able to support integrations into all of the major resort POS systems.  We’re often able to help organizations reduce processing costs while streamlining both systems and workflows.  In conjunction with deploying industry leading systems, hardware and software we provide a range of PCI compliance services tailored to resort specific requirements.  We pride ourselves on implementing integrated solutions to reduce administrative workflows so you can spend more time pursuing passions, like shredding on the hill!

For more information or to have our expert team working on competitive pricing analysis, contact our dedicated local Relationship Managers Chris Browes at [email protected] or 604-484-9278.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out and we would be proud to earn your business.

I hope that everyone has a great virtual conference this year and that you’re all managing to get out on the slopes!

Alberta Provincial Budget

Premier Kenney announced in the recent provincial budget an increase in funding to Travel Alberta by $22 million per year over the next three years.  This signals provincial commitment to sustained provincial promotion in critical destination markets, and also economic diversification throughout Alberta.  CWSAA ASM Chair Jason Paterson and Christopher Nicolson recently met with new Travel Alberta CEO David Goldstein and long-time friend of ski Travel Alberta VP Chris Heseltine.  As a former Destination Canada and TIAC boss, David is knowledgeable about ski and the opportunities it presents for provincial tourism.

Travel Alberta recently announced its marketing coop intake dates for 2021.  The first intake will run April 1-30.  Further details are expected in the weeks ahead >> HERE

Additional details can be found in the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta Newsletter.  To subscribe, click on the following link >>

BC Tourism Industry Conference

BC’s Tourism Minister Melanie Mark addressed the BC Tourism Industry Conference on March 9th and cited the collective work of CWSAA and resort partners for their dedication to serve communities this winter.  Minister Mark, Conroy, Kahlon, and Osborne recently announced $90 million through the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) to support community economic resilience, tourism, heritage, and urban and rural economic development projects.  The CWSAA industry working group submission, chaired by Steve Paccagnan and supported by Brent Harley & Associates, highlighted the importance of ski areas to rural BC and helped set the stage for grants totaling $6.5 million in ten ski communities.

Year-end Reporting

As the season comes to a close for many, Ski Areas are reminded to complete and submit the annual skier visitation and Competitor Pass usage form.  Individual ski area visitation information is kept strictly confidential.  The form was circulated to all General Managers by email on March 10.  Please submit to Cynthia Thomas at  upon closing.

Membership Invoices payments due

2021/22 Membership dues invoices were distributed by email to all existing members.  Ski Area dues are based on skier visits, and Associate dues are based on sales in the Western Canadian Ski Industry over the past year.

We value your partnership and thank all members for their continued support and involvement in industry initiatives.

If you have a change in accounting contacts, or have not received an invoice, please reach out to Bruno >> [email protected]

Invoices can be paid online >> HERE


In addition to the advantageous leasing model, CWSAA values the feeling of safety on western Canada’s roads that comes from a reliable and winterised Driving Force vehicle.  For transportation solutions, contact:

Dan Clark:


Kal Tire supports Safety

Thank you to Kal Tire for their support of safety and the Alpine Responsibility Code posters.

Places & Faces

There are many exciting advancements at the Sunridge Ski Area in Edmonton.  Grant Bacon has returned to Sunridge and moved into the role of General Manager. Ian Bakker (President) has secured a 25 year management contract with the province for Sunridge.  This allows Sunridge to move forward with some big improvements including a new snowmaking system (this summer) and new 500ft carpet lift (next summer).  Grant pictured with Christopher in 2016.

Hudson Bay Mountain (Smithers, BC) is preparing for lift accessed mountain biking to begin summer of 2022, thanks to CERIP grant and partnership with the Smithers Mountain Bike Association.  Read more >>  HERE

Earlier this season Mt Sima (Yukon) received $5.4 million from the federal and territorial governments to convert its snow-making operations to electric power. Currently Diesel is used to generate power for the water pump system and for the snow-making equipment.  The electrification will reduce the ski areas usage of diesel by 90%. More details >> HERE.

Big White’s Darcy Arnold was promoted to VP of Mountain Operations in October 2020.  A well known industry veteran, Darcy has contributed to many CWSAA initiatives.  Darcy took over for Jeremy Hopkinson following his well earned retirement and 44 years of service at Big White.

Throughout Spring Break, Troll Mountain (Quesnel, BC) is offering FREE skiing on the yellow lift! “We want to encourage everyone to come out, get some fresh air and learn something new like skiing or snowboarding!”

For the first time in Marmot Basin’s 56 year history, on March 9 the long-coveted and jaw-dropping slopes to the skiers right of Marmot Peak opened. There was a tremendous amount of planning and work that went into getting this exciting advanced and expert terrain open. Congratulations to the team at Marmot Basin.

Over the past few months Bob Dodge has been sharing stories about SROAMs grads, in celebration of the program’s 40th anniversary.

New stories have been added every week, with so many familiar faces being featured.  Check it out >> HERE.

Shames Mountain (Terrace, BC) has had some major snow over the past month. Hitting a total base of 440cm last week (yup, that’s actual base, not accumulated snow). The Top T bullwheel is 25 feet off the bare ground, now the settled base is at the height of bullwheel. With another major dump and you won’t be able to see any of the run signs.

Like all ski area operators across the west, Harper Mountain (Kamloops, BC) owners Norm and Lisa Daburger deserve so much credit for the mammoth hours and effort they put into preparing and executing a successful season. The safety protocols, signage, training, perseverance and patience paid off as the most frequent comment from guests was “thank you…thank you for operating and allowing families to play together safety.”

Rogers 5G network expanded to Sunshine! Guests to Sunshine Village have experienced a dramatic improvement in the quality and speed of connectivity across all sorts of devices, whether that means quickly checking messages before a run or taking a video meeting in the parking lot. The work also enables new opportunities for the resort, such as mobile ticketing and the ability for guests to order food and beverages from their devices while on the mountain.  Read more >> HERE


Manning & District Ski Hill seeking rental shop equipment

The Manning & District Ski Club (Manning, AB) is looking to upgrade their rental equipment.  Please contact: [email protected] if your resort is changing up your rental gear and have good quality equipment available, including:

  • skis
  • ski boots
  • boards with bindings
  • snowboard boots
  • helmets
  • bindings for skis and boards


Mt Joy – In search of lifts

With a growth in visitation, Mount Joy is looking for some new used equipment – in particular a carpet lift and chair lift.  Please contact Chris Bogue at [email protected]


Lake Louise Seeking Fixed Grip Quad Chair

Lake Louise is in search of a used fixed grip quad (preferably not older than 1990) for the beginner area.  Minimum specs required:

  • Length:      550 m   /    Elevation:     65 m
  • Number of Towers:      6 +terminal hold down
  • Number of Carriers:     70
  • Power:                 70 kW (90 HP)

Please contact Bruno Mannsberger at [email protected]

Ski areas that have equipment to sell or that your looking for, please contact [email protected] to include in the classifieds.

Advertise in the Newsletter

CWSAA Associate members are invited to submit a monthly digital ad for this newsletter.  Find out more >> HERE.


For many this year will provide some new recruiting challenges.  Don’t forget to post your jobs on some of the industry job boards.

CWSAA Job Board – All CWSAA Member’s can post jobs at no cost.

go2HR Job Board  – BC and Yukon tourism sector jobs.