January 2021 Newsletter

January 29, 2021 Newsletter

Message from Christopher Nicolson

The COVID safety protocols that ski areas across the west have developed, implemented, and enforced are the primary reason lifts remain turning in our industry.  In each jurisdiction, health authorities remain confident in their effectiveness to avoid transmission.  It is imperative that we remain hyper diligent to their enforcement, and continue to be nimble and adapt to any changing circumstance.  Transmission in communities continues, and many areas have faced questions on  things like photos of line ups.  Part of industry diligence is staying in contact with your health officials and helping them understand our operations.  For example the many safety protocols in place (eg: indoor capacity, lift procedures) create lines, and spacing and face coverings ensure the safety of any outdoor queue.  Most health authorities have shared that their primary interest is well managed spacing, face covering, and behaviour in a line, not the fact a line exists.

This operational mantra is replicated in the regulatory world.  As COVID evolves and health authorities respond, CWSAA has stayed closely connected to officials so that industry can quickly adjust as needed and continue to serve communities with safe outdoor activity.  This intense effort has the fluidity of water and has no rhythm.  It varies in each jurisdiction.  The work has been greatly aided by the CWSAA Board of Directors, ski area working groups in each jurisdiction, and particularly our Chair Andy Cohen.  On behalf of the entire industry, we applaud and thank each of them for their dedication.

Operationally, we can not be distracted from the next hour or even minute, but planning is now well underway for the CWSAA Virtual Spring Conference April 26 – 30.  Industry committees have scoped the sessions and details will be available shortly.  It is hoped that the virtual platform will attract many first time industry attendees as we have seen in the CWSAA on-line sessions this past year.

Many ski areas are now half-way through their season.  I will take a moment to highlight that self care is more critical than ever for both our teams and leaders.  The extra workload and pressure of the last eleven pandemic months, plus the normal season ramp up for the 19/20 season has meant a duration of fifteen months of relentless pressure for operators.  Many now see a light at the end of the tunnel, remember to look after yourselves for the duration.  We are all looking forward to sharing a communal congratulations at the end of this journey.


2021 Conference coming Online

Earlier this month, CWSAA announced the annual CWSAA Conference will take place as an online conference this spring.

Mark your calendars for April 26-30, 2021, as we come together as an industry. More details to follow in February.

CWSAA Awards Nominations now being accepted

It’s time to submit nominations for the annual CWSAA awards.  Nominations will be accepted until February 28.  This year, online socials will be incorporated into the conference, with the awards a special feature during these events.  Find out more >> HERE.

Spotlight on Safety Ambassadors

Ski Resorts across Western Canada have implemented COVID protocols to promote guest, staff and community safety during COVID-19.  Direct guest communication has been implemented at many resorts with dedicated staff to educate and monitor guests.

Resort employees at Sun Peaks (including lift operator Victoria pictured here) play a critical role in upholding the ski areas ‘no face covering, no ski policy’ at Sun Peaks Resort, BC. (Photo Right)

Ski Valley in Manitoba opened with beautiful weather earlier this month.  Nancy (owner of Ski Valley) greets every visitor which sets a positive and effective tone for COVID protocols compliance.   She plans to continue the greeter roll all season, even if it means she won’t be on snow teaching this year. (Photo Left)

Hannah, Mountain Operations Attendant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) is pictured wearing the resorts “Be Kind” button and shows the “Respect” and COVID protocol signage. (Photo Left)

Upcoming Online Industry Sessions

Nordic Roundtable Discussion – Thursday, Feb 4 at 1:00 pm PST / 2:00 pm MST

Join us for an informal round table discussion on Nordic operating best practices.  Topics will range from grooming strategies, trail use & controls and more.  Click HERE to register.

Associate Members Open Forum Part Two – Tuesday Feb 9 at 9:30 am PST / 10:30 am MST

CWSAA Associate Members are encouraged to join this discussion on creating opportunities to engage associate members at the upcoming CWSAA Virtual Conference. Click HERE to register.

go2HR Young Safety Mogul

Young safety champions are essential to creating an exemplary safety culture in the ski industry and other tourism and hospitality sectors that employ young workers. That’s why go2HR, in collaboration with the CWSAA, launched the Young Safety Mogul in 2020. It recognizes the vital role young supervisors/leaders can play in influencing their peers and promoting health and safety.

Read more about Emily Maki, the 2020 Young Safety Mogul recipient in this story >> HERE.

Nominations for the 2021 Young Safety Mogul are open until February 28, find out more >> HERE.

Passenger Ropeways Courses

Selkirk College Z98 online training courses: Lift 151, Lift 152 and Lift 153.

The passenger ropeways mechanics courses are now fully online in a new self-directed format.  Enrollment is now open for the Winter 2021 intake.

New “operational videos” were added this fall. There will no longer be a second component (“hands on” sessions) to these courses and Selkirk College will provide Certificates of Completion to students that successfully complete each online course module and the final exam. Individual courses take 15-30 hours to complete and final exams are held at the end of the registration cycle.  Enrollment is open anytime during the registration cycle. There will be 3 cycles offered each year:

  • Winter: January to April
  • Spring: May to June
  • Fall: September to December  ** NOTE: The courses for this fall (2020) are now complete.
  • FINAL EXAMS are held at the end of each registration cycle.

Congratulations to Selkirk College and Bob Bell for their exceptional contribution to our industry.  Thanks to Technical Safety BC, AEDARSA, & Alberta Safety Council for their support.

Register & see more info on Selkirk College’s webpage > HERE.

Passenger Ropeways and Passenger Conveyors: B.C. Act & Regulations Course

Technical Safety BC is now offering a FREE course specific to the BC Code.  This course is an overview of the Safety Standards Act, Safety Standards General Regulation and Elevating Devices Safety Regulation and how it applies to the Passenger Ropeway industry.

More information on the Technical Safety BC online Passenger Ropeways Course > HERE

Free COVID-19 Safety Plan Review

go2HR’s team of health and safety professionals have launched a new program to help B.C. tourism and hospitality businesses review their COVID-19 safety plan. Their experts will review your safety plan and provide recommendations and targeted feedback to help you meet current requirements.

This new initiative is designed to support employers in conducting an effective review of their COVID-19 safety plans and to help ensure all the relevant orders, guidance and industry protocols have been factored in.

Your documents will be held confidential, and the team of experts will review your safety plan against a comprehensive checklist, and provide you with suggestions for further development of your plan.

BC ski areas are encouraged to share this resource with the hospitality businesses in their community.  To participate in this complimentary service, please register >> HERE.

Small & Medium Sized Business Recovery Grants

Most provinces offer a SME Business Recovery Grant. Over the past several months, many of these grants have been modified and more businesses may be eligible, and/or more funding may be offered.  Number of employees, decline in revenues and funding requirements vary by province, however all tourism businesses are encouraged to apply, even if your business doesn’t meet all of the criteria.  This will ensure that the program personnel can evaluate your application and work with you on possible approval and potential updates to the grant program(s).  Some provincial programs include:

More grants can be found in the Industry Grants Database >> HERE.

CSIA scholarships

Ski School Directors are encouraged to remind their staff, who are considering taking a certification course this year, of the scholarships available. CSIA members can receive a $500 scholarship. All certification pathway programs are eligible.  Find out more >> HERE.

Special Offers for all CWSAA members and staff

Driving Force supports vehicle rental and leasing needs for many ski areas in western Canada.  In addition to ski areas, the industry discount is offered to your ski clubs and teams.   Please circulate the promotional code below to your resort partners and community.

Online Specials – Make Your Reservation At: drivingforce.ca

Promo Code: CWSAA

Sales & Leasing:

FRIENDLY STAFF             


Staff Offer from Kal Tire

Thanks to the partnership with Kal Tire, all ski area staff and associate members of CWSAA are eligible to receive $100 off at Kal Tire.  Please feel free to circulate this offer with your staff. To redeem, print the voucher or present on your mobile device in-store at Kal Tire.

Download the $100 coupon >> HERE.

Places & Faces

Marlin Van Zandt, Operations Manager at Snow Valley Ski Club, has been leading the hill through an extensive snowmaking.  Read More > HERE

Nakiska has a very unique social influencer – a cat named Gary. Gary embarks on many outdoor adventures in the Rocky Mountains, and is becoming quite the spectacle on the slopes of Nakiska.  @greatgramsofgary

The SROAM class of 2020-21 is embracing new ways of learning and important lessons in crisis management during their semester at Selkirk College.  Read about student profiles and what the class is working on this semester >> HERE.

Optimist Ski Hill (Saskatchewan) has added a second carpet lift to their operations, doubling their uphill capacity.

Eastlink Park (Alberta) significantly expanded their terrain, with the addition of a T-Bar this season.

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.