November 2021 Newsletter

CWSAA wishes to acknowledge the many emergency workers and volunteers assisting recovery efforts from the wake of the recent weather systems in southwest BC.  The catastrophic and heart-breaking event has taken life and impacted many communities and thousands of people.

2021/22 Season Start

The 2021/22 ski season has commenced at many ski areas with more opening in the coming days and weeks.  On a recent industry call, operating managers reported a positive vibe to the season.  Guests are familiar with the safety protocols and operational adjustments from last year and they are enthusiastic to again be on the slopes. Equally, ski areas are excited to be now operating and welcoming back guests.

Ski areas have the benefit of learning from last ski season, plus two southern hemisphere winters.  Industry has also built upon the confidence of authorities and the proven ability to provide safe service thanks to extraordinary best practices.  This work was led by a hyper-engaged industry committee, unreserved sharing of knowledge and protocols among peers, and support and guidance from our health officials and regulators.

The run up to this winter has been different than last winter.  Beyond the experience gained, vaccinations are available as a critical defense in the pandemic, and authorities have increasingly adopted a regionalised approach to health protocols.  In response, ski areas have had to adjust their operations and, as always, ensure full health order compliance.  They have also been able to start to rebuild markets and business capacity.  Communities and businesses alike recognise the many supports that government has provided over the course of the pandemic to assist with relief and recovery, but they are now either gone or being phased out.  As a primary economic driver in many of the communities ski areas serve, the need to be viable and continue to be a source of employment is critical.

Safe operation and adherence to all health orders is a primary focus of industry.  However, there are additional challenges that operators are forced to overcome.  A shortage of workers is well documented in the ski sector and many others.  By now, all are also aware of the recent devastating floods and loss in BC.  Ski areas themselves have been mostly spared, but critical infrastructure and transportation routes impact supply lines.  The disruptions are in advance of peak ski travel, however only some highway routes between the BC interior and coast will be available (in some limited fashion) in time for the coming holiday periods.  CWSAA and industry peers are working with government to develop communication strategies utilising the opportunities available to them.  Beyond the structural, our industry recognises the mammoth impact on many lives and livelihoods.

This is the context in which the western Canadian ski industry greeted November 2021.  It is therefore especially gratifying to hear from the first ski areas open this season that guests are returning to the slopes and feel safe to pursue outdoor recreation.  As demonstrated last winter, the ski industry reminded itself and perhaps others that it serves both an economic function in our communities, but just as importantly, ski serves a social need by providing safe opportunities for physical and mental wellness.

– Christopher Nicolson

Know Before You Go

For 20 months, CWSAA has been working directly with members, authorities, and peer industry associations on pandemic related topics. This work has defined the protocols that serve as best practices for our sector.  Over the span of the pandemic, the protocols have been presented and reviewed with authorities, and in so doing gained the confidence from authorities in the ski sector.  As the pandemic evolves, so does the need for clarity on emerging topics.

Depending on province or territory, CWSAA continues to work with officials on topics such as daylodge and lift capacity, clarifying Proof of Vaccination (PofV) requirements for 12 year olds based on date of birth (or year of birth), confirming coded season passes as eligible identification for PofV, protocols for children of vaccinated international guests, and how vaccination of 5 to 11 year olds may relate to PofV requirements.  These are examples out of a myriad of evolving details that require clear definition.  It is also why the ski industry has evolved its collective messaging across the country to adopt a Know Before You Go communications strategy.

Due to the variation in regional health orders, educating guests to ensure they are familiar with local protocols at their intended destination is critical.  Each ski area association across the country is incorporating the Know Before You Go guidance into its public messaging.  Ski area websites will continue to present the expectations at their area.  And national initiatives like will be updated in the coming days to reflect a Know Before You Go message.

Know Before You Go is identified as a core message in the pre-season November 8th communique to ski areas GMs.

Encouraging guests to be knowledgeable about travel to their destination is not new to Canadian ski areas.  The tragic weather events of the past week in south west BC highlights this need.  It has necessitated provincial transportation orders and widescale communication efforts.  Priority is of course and rightfully being given to essential services on highway routes, and full assessments are being completed.  In preparation for the coming weeks, CWSAA and ski areas are engaged with officials on developing messaging to consumers related to safe access and travel options for the coming winter.   Emergency Response messaging and guidance has been prepared by Destination BC and continues to be updated >> HERE.

CWSAA Staff Announcements

CWSAA is fortunate to have great people. Its people is its strength. This starts with its membership and the contributions through the decades of industry leadership and sharing of expertise. The examples from ski areas and industry suppliers are legendary and have been cultivated into the culture of CWSAA described as The Canada West Way. I’m happy to say, the Association also has good people within the organisation tasked with serving the membership on a day to day basis. When I joined CWSAA in my current capacity six years ago, I was introduced to a new team. Each subscribes wholeheartedly the service ethos of an association whereby the organisation serves the needs of its members.

But change is inevitable. Earlier this month CWSAA’s accountant Bruno Graziotto informed me that he has decided to retire. Bruno came to CWSAA several years ago on a temporary assignment thanks to his extensive accounting experience. It was not long before he joined the team on a permanent part time basis and has served the organisation since. CWSAA has benefited from his capable expertise and efficient process. Bruno has been most generous with his notification has been extraordinarily helpful in assisting the transition.

Moving forward, CWSAA has secured the services of an external accountant to support accounting services. Internally, Dawn Sleiman will take on some additional book keeping responsibilities. Dawn has handled such duties in past, and has demonstrated strong ability and competence. Indeed, few are as calm as Ms. Sleiman in a maelstrom. Good thing as Dawn is CWSAA’s lead for conference planning. As such, Dawn will be supported by Shannon McVagh-Janz through spring 2022. Shannon was introduced to CWSAA members at last years virtual conference and has been a key part of the CWSAA team over the past several months as Cynthia Thomas was seconded onto the Safety Education project. Like our members, each of the CWSAA team has adjusted and been willing to do what is needed to best serve its members.

I would like to thank Bruno for his past and present service, commitment to smooth transition, and wish him the best in retirement. I would also like to thank Dawn, Cynthia, and Shannon for their dedication and continued efforts to support the membership in all manner possible.

Thank you,


Instructor Training Bursary

15 Ski Areas to receive CWSAA Small Areas Ski School Instructor Training Bursary.

In October, the CWSAA Board announced a new Bursary available to small ski areas which would cover up to 50% of course fees for up to 5 instructors.  A total of 18 applications were received, with 15 being approved, totaling just over $15,000 in support for instructor training.  Ski areas that have applied will be contacted this week to confirm their funding amounts and the process to receive the reimbursement.

The application process is now closed.  Stay tuned in the Fall of 2022 for more information on future intakes.

Grade 4/5 SnowPass Now on sale

The 2021/22 SnowPass is now available for families to purchase >> HERE.

For Ski Areas, training manuals will be available for download, please watch for the next CSC communications for the link.

It’s not too late to join in the program if your ski area wants to participate.

Learn More about National Programs >> HERE.  Or contact Michele McGann at

Jon Burgman, Pass Powderkeg‘s (Crowsnest Pass, Alberta) Mountain Operations Supervisor has endless knowledge of every aspect of the ski areas operations over his more than 15 years.

Jon is up for any challenge and won’t let the stress of pre-season preparations stop him from coming up with new inventions.  In the midst of setting up for pre-season snowmaking, Jon built a mini snowcat plow for his son. The tracks work off of the wheelchair motor and he rigged up the shovel to plow.

Find out more about Jon and Pass Powderkeg in this Month’s Innovation Corner blog post on The Canada West Way >> HERE.

The ski industry is known for its innovation and creativity.  We want to hear about your new innovative programs, inventions, and creative way your ski area has solved a problem.  From new ways to recruit staff, creative fixes for that impossible problem or a cool invention fellow ski industry folks will be envious of, like Jon’s plow cat.  Submit your story (and pictures) for this monthly newsletter feature to Cynthia Thomas at


Rod Chisholm Memorial Bursary

AEDARSA has created a new Bursary in memory of Rod Chisholm at Selkirk College in Nelson BC.
The Rod Chisholm Memorial Bursary ($1,000) will go annually to three students demonstrating financial need, enrolled in the Ski Resort Operations & Management program.
Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Association (AEDARSA) offers this bursary for students in honour of Rod Chisholm, a leader in the ski resort operations industry. As a board member of AEDARSA, Rod was a spokesperson and champion for Alberta’s Passenger Ropeways (gondolas, trams, and chairlifts). Rod started as a gondola operator in 1985 at Sunshine Village and worked his way up through the ranks to Vice President of Operations. He was loved on and off the mountain for his quick wit, loyalty, and caring demeanor. AEDARSA is proud to share Rod’s legacy with the next generation of ski resort leaders.

SROAM Success Stories

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the SROAM program, Bob Dodge has been checking with past SROAMies with his monthly articles Tales of SROAM Success.

This months article features some very familiar names with CWSAA.  Each of those featured in the November article were part of SROAM’s 2011 a Hall of Fame which was developed in celebration of SROAMs 30th anniversary, and adorns the walls of the first-year classroom.

In this month’s feature includes: Guy Paulson (1983 grad), Kris Hawryluik (1990), Heather Moore (2000), Doug Avery (1992), Steve Bailey (1995), Derek Look (2000), Matt Koenig (2000), Ryan Stimming (2003), Richard Roy (2010), Todd Noble (1996), Graham Sullivan (1995), and Nathan Dorward (2001).

CWSAA Partners

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Staff Offer from Kal Tire: Download the Coupon

Thanks to the partnership with Kal Tire, all ski area staff and associate members of CWSAA are eligible to receive $80 off at Kal Tire.  Please feel free to circulate this offer with your staff.

To redeem, click on the image to the left, and print the voucher or present on your mobile device in-store at Kal Tire.

Places & Faces


Bryan Wallace has been an important part of Rabbit Hill for 40 years.  Earlier this month, Bryan was honoured with a special chairlift dedication – “The Englishman.”  Bryan continues to support Rabbit Hill’s team in a consulting role.

Troll Ski Resort (Quesnel, BC) is celebrating 50 years this season.  Hildur Sinclair is lighting things up to celebrate, and the resort will be offering Night Riding for the first time in about 20 years.  With lighting technology significantly changed, Troll has installed the newest LED lights to provide better lighting at a fraction of the cost.  Night Riding will be available on the blue lift and bunny lift.  The local ski club is also excited to have more training time, and everyone else more hours to ski!

Christopher Nicolson joined Edmonton Ski Club’s Eric, Brandon, and area manager Zoe Sloan for a tour earlier this month. Lots of exciting programming ahead for this winter to attract first time skiers and riders, especially new Canadians. Zoe and Eric have been making snow and farming the snow from recent storm cycles. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, ESC operates an ice climbing wall built through a partnership with the Alpine Club of Canada. The steel scaffold frame in the background supports the ice wall.