April 2020 Newsletter

April 24, 2020 Newsletter

Message from Christopher Nicolson

As an association, CWSAA is guided by a 3-year and annual plan. These plans are based upon membership priorities and approved by the elected Board.  Since March 2020 however, the ‘plan’ has had quite a make over…multiple times.  Virtual missiles continue to appear every morning from all directions.  In this everchanging maze, CWSAA priorities have shifted to best serve its members.  Starting in March, focus migrated progressively through operations and crisis management, employee care, business survival, government advocacy, seasonal maintenance, and ultimately to inviting guests back to our ski areas.

Read more from Christopher (click to expand)

Through aligning with other industries and partners, the ski sector was and continues to be part of a collective voice in making recommendations to government.  These included new business liquidity and employee initiatives, and as importantly conveyed to government where there were holes in the system.  Programmes such as the wage subsidy, and loan and credit relief measures are at the federal level and the government proved to be responsive to input.  This does not suggest all things are timely and work for all, but there is genuine effort given the circumstances.  CWSAA and multiple partners have a significant number of recommendations before various levels of government to assist both ski areas, and also the many suppliers in our industry.  Significant gaps in government relief measures have been identified for small and medium size businesses.  CWSAA and others are pressing the case that without such businesses, there is nothing from which to build the recovery.

Thanks to CWSAA Board and government relations committee, CWSAA effort has been guided on the most important issues to the sector.  These recommendations are often advanced in coordination with other industry groups.  Examples include wage subsidy, EI criteria, loan and credit relief, and fee deferral.  As these items move through government, the CWSAA committee has sharpened its focus on continued wage subsidy and items more unique to the sector including land rent fees, visas, essential services, and public operation.

As society shifts its gaze to the long recovery ahead, the ski sector has positioned itself to be an active player to assist in the recovery.  When appropriate, there is expected to be demand for safe outdoor activity.  Ski areas are providers of such opportunity.  Large event and group gatherings will not likely be part summer 2020, however ski areas are well positioned to provide other opportunities and are working to incorporate health authority guidance into summer operations.  It is also important that ski areas engage with their local communities and convey confidence in safety protocols for workers, guests, and local community.

In alignment with ski area associations across North America, CWSAA is assembling best practises for winter operation.  This will incorporate many of the learnings from ski and other sectors.  It will anticipate various scenarios and incorporate the guidance of health authorities.  An industry steering committee is guiding its development with a draft available in later May.

To date, the bulk of CWSAA’s COVID-related work has been through conference calls, committee work, and direct written communication.  The hour to hour fluidity of the crisis did not lend itself to long lead times.

Next week marks what would have been the 52nd annual CWSAA conference.  As the date approaches, and as we look to recovery, CWSAA is pleased to start presenting some of the spring conference content in a new on-line portal.  These weekly sessions will vary in topic and will incorporate the new environment in which our industry exists.  In advance we thank the many folks in our industry that have agreed to participate and share their knowledge.

Traditionally, spring conference is also the time of year that CWSAA recognises some special people in our industry with the Jim Marshall Leadership, Jimmie Spencer Lifetime, and Lars Fossberg Excellence Awards.  New this year is also the go2HR Young Safety Mogul Award.  Thanks to the work of many members, CWSAA is excited to be releasing these throughout the week.

Dawn, Cynthia and I have all placed calls across Western Canada to operators and suppliers over the past two weeks.  We have again been inspired by our members optimism and ability to rise to any challenge.  As CWSAA staff, it continues to be a pleasure to serve.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out.  We look forward to connecting with many of you next Wednesday.

Thank you.


Online Industry Sessions

Every Wednesday throughout May and June at 9:45 am Pacific / 10:45 am Mountain / 11:45 am Eastern, industry members will gather online for a new topic and discussion.

Stay tuned for a full list of topics for the Online Industry Sessions, including summer operations this season, maintenance in the COVID state, Human Resources, Marketing.  Some of these topics will be highly centered around the current pandemic circumstances, while others will be based upon existing planned sessions from the spring conference.  Stay tuned for the schedule.

There will be no cost for CWSAA members to participate, however you will need to register for each individual session by noon on Tuesday prior to the session.

Small Areas Online Industry Session

The first Online Industry Session is next Wednesday:

April 29 at 9:45am Pacific / 10:45 Mtn / 11:45 Eastern
Topic: Small Areas Forum
Sign up for the April 29th session HERE

About this session: While this call is open to all CWSAA Members, it is intended as a forum for small, medium and community-oriented ski areas to discuss relevant matters.  Several ski areas will share their best initiative/idea implemented at their ski area this season, then the lines will open for additional input and discussion.

CWSAA Annual Awards

The CWSAA Board of Directors is proud to announce the recipients of the annual CWSAA Awards next next week by video format.  Check out the daily announcement at 9am Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week on Facebook for video presentation tributes to the recipients of the 2020 Lars Fossberg, Jim Marshall and Jimmie Spencer Awards.

Alberta Community Ski Area Best Practices in Business Planning Guide

Over the past year, with support from Alberta Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, CWSAA has developed a guide to support ski areas with important business planning for their operation.

This guide is intended for ski area Managers, Boards, Ownership and other leaders at community ski areas throughout Western Canada.  Given the current situation, we know many ski areas are re-evaluating some of their capital plans, operations offerings and staffing needs.  We hope this guide will be of assistance in reviewing your priorities.

Please note, section A of the document contains a review of the ski industry in Alberta.  Section B (starting on page 17) begins the best practices!

To access this guide: Log onto the CWSAA Member’s Only section.  Under links & downloads, find Best Practices Guides, and open “NEW! Community Ski Area Best Practices in Business Planning, 2020.”

Selkirk College Passenger Ropeways textbooks

A newly updated textbook series is now available from Selkirk College Ski Resort Operations and Management Program.  The 2020 edition comprises of a three book set: Regulations, Maintenance, Functions.

The set can be ordered directly through Selkirk College for $136.50 + tax and shipping.  Click on the image for more information.

Driving Force

Social distancing and safe work best practices have impacted fleet vehicle demands in the workplace.  Dan Clark at DRIVING FORCE reports that commercial demand for larger vehicles has grown to allow for greater distancing between passengers.  For example, 12-passenger 4X4 vans in place of SUVs, or crewcab pickups in place of regular cab trucks. Ski areas and suppliers are actively comparing lease and rental options for summer and fall maintenance projects with the benefits of leasing or purchasing inventory originally destined for those covid-affected industries.  For more information, contact Dan Clark (780-964-8800) at DRIVING FORCE.

Public Access in Controlled Recreation Areas (BC)

Public access within Controlled Recreation Areas is managed by ski area operators under agreement with the Province of BC.

Mountain resort and community ski area operators are authorized to manage and direct public access within Controlled Recreation Areas year-round for the purpose of safe and orderly operation of the resort and to conduct development and ongoing maintenance activities.

Persons found to be in trespass or in contravention of public access advisories within Controlled Recreation Areas may be evicted from the area and face enforcement actions by local authorities.

For more information about Controlled Recreation Access in BC, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/resort-development/public-access-and-controlled-recreation-areas

Lift Regulators

AEDARSA and Technical Safety BC have sent updates to ski areas relating to recent initiatives.  Please ensure lift maintenance teams are aware.

Places & Faces

After 32 years with Doppelmayr Canada Jim Anderson will be retiring effective May 1.
Jim sent the following message to CWSAA: “Over the years I have had the privilege of working in most of the ski areas in Western Canada and have been involved in the construction or overhaul of sixty plus lifts.  I have been fortunate to work in an industry where clients quickly become your friends.  Please let me thank all of my clients and colleagues for taking this journey with me.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you.”

Brent Carmichael will succeed Jim as General Manager of Doppelmayr Canada West.  Brent has been with Doppelmayr Canada for over ten years, is well qualified and has the experience to seamlessly take on his new role.  Welcome to Brent in his new role and congratulations to Jim on his retirement.

Jim Loyd retired at the end of this season after 45 years at Big White Ski Resort.  Jim’s career at Big White spanned from ski instructor to Director of Sales, and he has made a big impact at the resort and throughout the ski industry.

Jim shared the following message: “The Ski Industry really is one big family, we all share a passion and commitment to the industry and I’ve had the pleasure of building friendships that will last forever. While I may not be as active in and around the Ski Industry, my wife Brenda and I will continue to enjoy the sport on our ‘own time’.”

CWSAA wishes Jim Loyd a wonderful retirement.

Upcoming Events

  • Sept 28 -29, 2020 – CWSAA ASM Fall Division Meeting, Snow Valley Ski Resort Edmonton, AB
  • October 6-8, 2020 – CWSAA BC-Y Fall Division Meeting, Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, BC
  • October 25-26, 2020 – SSAOA Fall Meeting, Falcon Ridge, Manitoba
  • April 27-29, 2021 – CWSAA Spring Conference, Lake Louise Alberta

Check out the Industry Events Calendar HERE for more details.