July 2021 Newsletter

July 22, 2021 Newsletter

Message from the President

Consumer demand for outdoor pursuits is evident throughout the west this summer, though visitation compared to past norms varies by jurisdiction. The tourism sector recently received welcome news of federal plans to allow international visitors in the coming months. The regulations are in part an acknowledgement of the proven success and diligence of safety protocols. It also signals that we must remain mindful of the varying comfort levels of our teams and guests this coming winter.

Wildfire activity on the landbase returns as a challenge for summer operators. The impact of smoke to sightseeing and outdoor activity from distant fires, and threats to transportation corridors have already reared themselves. The fire around Lytton, BC, and those in our recent past are stark reminders of their power, and the loss of one of our colleagues last month while fighting fire emphasizes the risk. CWSAA has worked with government to increase the opportunity for ski areas to access wildfire mitigation funding, and many areas have implemented treatments in interface areas. As a nature based sector, operators are well aware that increased preventative work must continue.

In the period ahead, CWSAA is executing the recent directions from the Board and ski area General Manager calls. The in-person fall meetings dates are confirmed >>HERE  and venue logistics will be posted shortly. The risk management e-commerce education project as presented earlier this year is in full flight with many ski areas engaged. Attendance continues to be high in the CWSAA on-line information sessions, and the next stages of the industry Responsible Stewardship initiative are in process.

In the midst of all the challenges, we also take time to reflect. Our industry was built by people with vision, perseverance, grit, and passion. Many of these traits are common within leaders. But the pioneering spirit of the early days of our industry are unique and can not be replicated. The unknown and unexplored is more familiar now. Over the past month, our industry has lost some of our greats. Each are special individuals with their own stories and formidable inner strength. Each were driven to succeed and mentored many within our current industry. Our thoughts and condolences are with their families, friends, and co-workers. Please take time to remember each of them in your thoughts as you read their stories below.

– Christopher Nicolson

CWSAA New Board

CWSAA is pleased to welcome three new Directors elected to the CWSAA Board during the July 7th AGM:

  • BC-Yukon Division Director, Darcy Arnold, Big White Resort
  • Director at Large, Katherine Seleski, Pass PowderKeg Ski Area
  • Helicopter-Cat Skiing Division Director, Dave Morrison, Island Lake Lodge

Click >>HERE for a full list of CWSAA Director’s.

CWSAA would like to express its deep appreciation to the three exiting Board Members for their exceptional service during their tenure on the Board:

Peter Nixon, Patric Maloney, Stewart Laver. Stewart will to continue to serve the CWSAA Board in an ex-officio capacity as Competitor Pass Chair.

Read more in the Canada West Way >>HERE.


Our ski family is remembering individuals and pioneers who have recently passed away.  CWSAA extends its sincere condolences to loving family and friends of Peter Alder, Mike Wiegele, John Currie, and Heath Coleman.

Last week, the ski industry lost two incredible pioneers: Peter Alder and Mike Wiegele.  Peter and Mike both spent their entire lives sharing their passion, talents and ambition for skiing with the industry. Their legacies have touched so many in the ski industry.  As such both Peter and Mike were recognized with the Jimmie Spencer Lifetime achievement award – Peter Alder the 2019 recipient and Mike Wiegele the 2020 recipient.  Read more about Peter and Mike’s remarkable contributions to the ski industry in The Canada West Way >> HERE.

Peter Alder’s memorial service will be held Friday, July 23rd in Whistler and online through zoom. View Peter’s obituary, write a condolence to the family, and see details on his memorial >> HERE.

Mike Wiegele’s legacy and dedication to safety in the mountains continues, the Wiegele family has established the Mike Wiegele Avalanche Association Fund.  This fund will support safety and loss prevention through avalanche research. Mike’s family would appreciate you honoring him through a contribution to this fund.

Read the announcement from Mike Wiegele Heliskiing and more about the Mike Wiegele Avalanche Association Fund>> HERE.


In June, we were saddened to hear of the passing of well-known long-time industry champions: Heath Coleman and John Currie .

Heath Coleman lost his life in the line of duty as a first responder in fighting wildfires on June 28, 2021. Heath was a helicopter pilot with Yellowhead Helicopters and the Blue River base manager at Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing for more than 20 years. CWSAA is sadden by Heath’s passing and honour his service to protect others as the highest calling. Read announcement >>HERE.

John Currie was Hudson Bay Mountain’s first Manager (from 1980 to 1993) and was instrumental in developing the ski area formerly known as Ski Smithers.  John moved to Smithers from Grouse Mountain. Thank you for your inspiration and from the many that benefitted from your vision. Following a short battle with cancer, Currie passed away at his home in Fort St. James on June 20. Read announcement >>HERE.

BC Provincial State of Emergency Declared

The BC government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the province-wide response to the ongoing wildfire situation.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made the declaration on July 20, 2021, based upon the recommendation from the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.

The declaration became in effect on July 21, 2021.

Further details of the announcement can be viewed >>HERE.

Tourism Relief Fund – Now open for applications

The Tourism Relief Fund, administered by Canada’s regional development agencies and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth. This fund will position Canada to be a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is once again safe by:

  • empowering tourism businesses to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors; and
  • helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors by providing the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world.

Eligible applicants include tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors. To be eligible for this fund, applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be a key supplier or operator in the visitor experience;
  • Be part of a defined tourism cluster or a tourism dependent community, including supporting downtown cores; or
  • Provide an anchor product or service in a tourism destination.

For more details on the eligibility criteria, please consult the applicant guide >>HERE.

Earlier this month a CWSAA Online Industry Session provided informative guidance and strategies on effective grant writing. CWSAA members can view a recording of this session in the members section of the CWSAA website. (log in required)

Canada Reopening Dates for the Border

The federal government announced that unless the Coronavirus situation reverses course, the border will be reopened to all discretionary travel on September 7. The border will only be open to persons who have been fully vaccinated by Government of Canada-accepted vaccines at least 14 days before crossing the border into Canada. The reopening of the border applies to people from all countries seeking to enter Canada.

Fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents of the USA who are currently living in the US will be permitted to enter Canada for discretionary travel as of August 9. Travelers looking to enter Canada must provide proof of vaccination before departing for Canada, as well as documentation providing proof of vaccination available to government officials upon request. Travelers must also be asymptomatic upon arrival.

The official announcement and more details can be found >> HERE.

Christian Thèberge honored with SAMMY award

CWSAA celebrates Christian Thèberge of My Mountain Co-op, Shames Mountain, B.C. as an honoree in his role of community ski area resuscitator and industry contributor for 2021 SAMMY Leadership award.

SAMMY Leadership Award 2021 honorees embody many of the mountain resort industry’s hallmarks: creativity, work ethic, entrepreneurship, selflessness, and involvement.

Enjoy this short video of the SAMMY honoree as you get to know Christian a little better.

Watch >>HERE.

Young Safety Mogul Award

During the virtual Spring Conference 2021,  Adrien Grabinski was acknowledged for his extraordinary safety leadership qualities in the ski industry.

The go2HR Young Safety Mogul Award was created to recognize the vital role young health and safety advocates can play in influencing their peers.

go2HR has prepared a feature of his achievement >> HERE.

Fall Meeting dates

Our recent AGM held July 7th, there was unanimous decision to move forward in planning in-person Fall meetings, following the proper protocols and guidelines. CWSAA encourages you to mark your calendar for the upcoming fall meeting dates. >>HERE.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Dates:  Sep 28 – 29
Venue information being posted shortly

British Columbia, Yukon Dates:  Oct 5 – 6
Venue information being posted shortly

Saskatchewan Ski Area Operators Association:  Oct 25
Falcon Ridge, Manitoba

Help the Tourism & Hospitality Industry Return to a New Normal

Participate in the survey and enter into a draw for prizes valued at $1,500.

go2HR has been hard at work undertaking a Labour Market Information research project to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on our workforce. Even before COVID-19, the industry faced some significant human resource challenges.  We know those challenges will only increase as we emerge from the pandemic.  go2HR needs your help and participation in representing a sample of employers across all sectors and regions of the province.

Take the survey and find out more >> HERE.

New Member’s

CWSAA welcomes the return of the following associate members:

IC Thrive

Lifeskill Rescue Services Ltd.


CWSAA Partners

DRIVING FORCE safety on the roads

In addition to rentals, sales, and beneficial leasing model, CWSAA values the feeling of safety and security on western Canada’s roads that come from a reliable new or used DRIVNG FORCE vehicle. For all of your 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.




Kal Tire now does brakes. Special offer on brake packages starting at $299

Places & Faces

On July 10th Cypress Mountain launched their new summer operations with the Eagle Coaster.

In addition to the coaster they are offering food and beverage service, hiking and geo-caching.

Find out more about the Eagle Coaster >> HERE.

Picture left is Russell Chamberlain GM with past CWSAA BCY Division chair Maureen Collins.


Picture left is Joffrey Koeman from Cypress Mountain marketing on opening day.

Pictured right Sun Peaks patrollers Liam and Jordan conducting lift training with their team.

Recently our CWSAA Industry Safety Projects and Communication Manager Cynthia Thomas and family were on vacation. One of their stops was the Sea to Sky Gondola.

The Sea to Sky gondola has re-purposed gondola cabins throughout the attraction – including several used as picnic shelters that Cynthia’s family enjoyed while visiting.

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.