May 2020 Newsletter

May 20, 2020 Newsletter

Summer Operations Best Practices – an evolution

Access to healthy outdoor recreation and exercise has never been as important as it is in 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined many things, perhaps including the roll that ski areas serve within our communities.   Beyond the economic contribution, the health benefits that ski areas provide to residents and guests have been vividly illustrated by that anxiousness many have felt from being indoors.  The outdoors offers relief to mental health stresses and helps strengthen communities and families.  It is through this lens that ski areas may feel added responsibilities to their communities, staff, and guests.

For any service, acting responsibility in the COVID-19 era is critical.  This is absolutely the case for ski areas that share a particularly intimate relationship with the communities in which they serve. For this reason, draft guidelines for summer operations amid COVID-19 have been developed with input from ski areas and the expertise of Ecosign Mountain Planners.   The guidelines were developed in partnership with ski area associations in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic.

At a practical level, CWSAA views the guidelines as ones that will continue to evolve.  As protocols are shared with operators and authorities for input, it is understood that new materials from various regulators are being constantly developed and will shape future industry protocols.   Businesses are therefore asked to anticipate an evolution of recommendations as society learns and adapts through this current crisis.

Summer best practices have been shared with summer operators and will be made available to ski areas through CWSAA.  Further updates will be shared as they become available.

The summer document has also helped guide winter planning.  While winter operations are several months away, operators find themselves planning now for multiple scenarios.  CWSAA and partners are developing a higher level winter document that will assist in planning assumptions.  Further operational details can be anticipated later in the year.

Special thanks to the CWSAA Board, Summer Operations Working Group, Risk Committee and Ecosign Mountain Planners (especially Jill Almond) for their extensive contribution and effort on the best practices.

Wednesday morning Online Industry Sessions

Every Wednesday throughout May and June at 9:45 am Pacific / 10:45 am Mountain / 11:45 am Eastern, industry members gather online to discuss current ski industry topics.

Thank you to all the panelists and presenters that have helped with the first 3 sessions.  We’ve had 50+ participants in the first two sessions and over 100 in the most recent. If you missed a session, you can find the links to watch them in our Member’s Only section (sorry, we didn’t record the first session – Small Areas Forum).

Sessions are open only to CWSAA Members.  There is no cost for members to participate, however you will need to register for each individual session by noon on Tuesday prior to the session.  Once registered, hold tight, we’ll send you the link to the session on Tuesday afternoon.

Next Session:

Wednesday May 27 at 9:45am Pacific
Topic: Risk Assessment
Sign up for this session HERE.

About this session: Presentation by Jonathan Faloon of Winsport on how to implement the hazard assessment process to support legislative compliance and encourage safe culture.

Government Relief and Advocacy

There have been a number of meaningful outcomes for ski area and associate members that assist with business survival, relief, and recovery from COVID-19 impacts.  While outstanding issues remain, governments have made significant commitments. Without recounting an entire list of support measures in each jurisdiction – past CWSAA newsletters and communications have outlined the strategy the Association took in regards to advocacy – below are some of the most impactful items:

  • Federal wage subsidy extended from June 6 to end of August 2020.
  • The order that ceased passenger ropeway operation in Alberta in March was rescinded on May 13 paving the way for summer operations.
  • Essential service designation for service and maintenance of ski area infrastructure was assigned early and has allowed ski areas to maintain facilities.
  • Temporary Lay Off period in BC was extended from 13 to 16 weeks, though industry has maintained the request for a 26 week period.
  • Some businesses, like sole proprietorships, fell through gaps in criteria for many relief programs.  This is now being addressed through federal funds in a Regional Relief and Recovery initiative delivered by Western Economic Diversification.  In addition, CWSAA is continuing to advocate for stimulus funding for capital projects.
  • Recognition and confidence in sector’s early preparedness with respect to safe operation and best practices

CWSAA continues to inform governments of the challenges faced by our industry.  In addition to specific asks, CWSAA has advanced the general position on items such as land rent that fee forgiveness rather than deferment is required to assist the recovery.

In addition to the many partner organisations with which CWSAA aligned (including TIAC, TIAA, TIABC, Restaurants Canada and several others), Federal and Provincial government leadership has been strong.  Federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly has been active on provincial calls throughout the country and an enthusiastic conduit into Ottawa that has enabled constant improvements to many relief programs and business liquidity measures.  In Alberta, Minister Kaycee Mandu and Minister Tanya Fir and her EDTT staff have been ambassadors for industry.  In BC, Tourism Minister Lisa Beare and FLNRORD Minister Doug Donaldson have each demonstrated an impressively high degree of personal engagement in the sector with multiple personal calls and additional communication to understand COVID’s impact and identify how best to support the sector.  The voices of the Yukon and each western province including Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba’s Premier Brian Pallister have each been important in leveraging calls upon the federal government for support.  Saskatchewan’s small business emergency fund has also acted as a template for some asks of government.  For the discussions of past, and those to come, the ski sector is appreciative of the sincere efforts of all our government leaders.

CWSAA Awards Announced


During the last week of April, each day the award recipients were announced.  We are excited to share the following 2020 recipients:

  • 2020 Jimmie Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award – Mike Wiegele
  • 2020 Jim Marshall Leadership Award – Rob McSkimming
  • 2020 Lars Fossberg Excellence Award – Pat Boyle
  • 2020 Young Safety Mogul – Emily Duhaime

Read more about the recipients and watch their video presentations HERE.

CWSAA visited Innisfail last fall.  Read more on our facebook post HERE.

Innisfail Ski Hill (Alberta) chalet replacement

The existing 57 year old hill top lodge will be replaced throughout the summer and fall with a new Chalet. The current lodge was built by volunteers in the 1960’s, constructed of stramit (compressed straw), post and beam and stucco.  The new chalet will provide more space for both guests and gear, an upgraded concession, larger washrooms, a more efficient building envelope and more. Work has begun on site with the goal to have the new chalet operable by this upcoming ski season.  Read More.

DRIVING FORCE new Community Investment Programs

In keeping with their long-held tradition of giving back DRIVING FORCE Inc. is rolling out a new slate of Community Investment Programs. The new programs will provide Charitable, Not-for-Profit and Community-Based organizations with transportation solutions to help them fulfill their missions. Eligible groups can receive rental discounts, as well as free rentals on the “Give’r” trucks.

The Give’r trucks are decaled crew cab half tons, suitable for everything from bottle drives to building projects. In June, they will be available in Calgary, Edmonton and Langley. DRIVING FORCE hopes to have “Give’r” trucks available at all their locations in 2021. All other vehicle rentals are discounted according to a scorecard that takes into consideration a variety of variables. Renters must carry their own insurance and be at least 25 years old. More details are available at

Reinventing Business

During this time, we’ve seen a number of great examples of how businesses have adapted to the current situation.

  • The annual Banff Sunshine Village Slush Cup has hosted a Slush Cup every year since 1928. This event has turned into one of the biggest weekend’s of the season.  Given this season’s event could not happen in person, Sunshine took the virtual happy hour concept to a whole new level and had a virtual slush cup party.  The event had a DJ and special Sunshine virtual backgrounds plus a contest.  Read More.
  • One pub in Prince George has brought back old school drive-in dining.  Perhaps ski areas could take this concept and implement movie nights in ski area parking lots with Food and Beverage revenue opportunities.  With food orders placed by cell phone.   Read about Westwood Pub’s Drive In Dining.
  • Cranmore Mountain in New Hampshire is providing a memorable physically distant experience for high school grads on its lifts. Read More.

What is your business doing to reinvent and adapt during the current pandemic?  Send us your stories to [email protected]


For Sale: Generator – 600 v and 600 Amps unit with 2 separate 400Amps breakers and 10 times 50 amps direct breakers + plugs attached to it. Engine is 860 HP  16 cylinder.   Unit mounted on skid with a big A frame to be pulled by a snowcat.  120 hours on it with a new Deepsea control panel.  Contact Franz at Mt Norquay: [email protected]






Places & Faces

Congratulations to Bob Dufour on his recent retirement from Whistler Blackcomb.  Bob has been a part of the Whistler Blackcomb family since 1972 and was involved with the growth of Whistler Mountain almost from its inception, and played a key role in the merger of the two mountains. His most recent post was as VP of Mountain Operations and Maintenance, and in the early days was Director of Ski School at Whistler Mountain.  Through Bob’s many contributions to our community, resort and our sport, he has helped Whistler Blackcomb to become North America’s leading mountain resort. He will hold a prominent place in Whistler Blackcomb’s history as one of the pioneers. For now, we wish Bob and his family all the best and look forward to what the next chapter brings.

Danielle Kristmanson & MJ Legault were recipients of the 2020 Sammy Leadership awards.  Danielle and MJ lead the team at Origin Design and Communications a leading mountain sports agency that has offices in Whistler and produced numerous award winning ski videos.  Congratulations to Danielle and MJ, as well as all the other award recipients.

Congratulations to Don Sharpe who was recently elected to the BC Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  Don is the Vice President of Resort Operations for Holiday Trails Resorts, which owns Manning Park Resort.  Read More

On behalf of CWSAA, we wish to thank Royce Chwin for his leadership and support for the Alberta ski sector and provincial tourism industry as the CEO at Travel Alberta.  Royce has recently accepted a new position as CEO of Tourism Vancouver.  Read More. 

Dave Morrison returns west!  Congratulations to Dave Morrison, the new General Manager of Island Lake Lodge.  Dave spent 10 years at Pass Powderkeg, before heading east.

Events Calendar

  • 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.