Places & Faces: Sasquatch Mountain

The 2019/20 season at Sasquatch Mountain Resort in the Fraser Valley (formerly Hemlock Valley Resort) features a new Leitner Poma conveyor loading quad. The lift substantially increases the ski areas uphill capacity and the lift itself will move 1800 passengers per hour with room for additional carriers in the future. The conveyor loading system provides easy access onto the carriers that are running at over 2 metres per second. The conveyor belt itself is short, and the surface is made of ridged plastic rather than rubber so there is little realignment required compared to a full conveyor lift. That said, the conveyor machinery is below the surface and requires confined space training.

Acting General Manager Jesse Crawford exudes excitement about the lift and the coming winter season. His energy is palpable as he explains his personal mantra and the message he passes on to his new staff: be safe, be practical, keep the area looking good. In addition to asking staff to enjoy the experience at Sasquatch, he challenges them to establish and meet their own personal goals. Jesse is another product of the Selkirk College SROAM program. He enrolled in 1999.

Mark (also a SROAM grad) and Jim (pictured right) from the lift and operations team share in the excitement of the new lift. Some of their team were employed by Leitner Poma over the summer to help with the installation. This increases pride as well as knowledge of the new lift.

Sasquatch has also incorporated the new Exclusion of Liability signage at all its access points as well as lift stations, ticket windows, and washrooms.

Sasquatch enjoys a close partnership with local Indigenous communities. Reconciliation has many complex aspects to it, but there are also many simple opportunities that are meaningful and based upon respect. Recognition through integrating local Indigenous names and words are examples of this, and inviting band members to attend ski area training sessions (eg: firefighter, first aid, operator, F&B) represent opportunities to help build community to community relationships as well as potentially recruit new locally based employees.

Career opportunities at ski areas are diverse. Like many ski areas, Sasquatch operates the utilities for the village and base facilities requiring expertise. The ski area operates three shuttles that help move skiers and rides up the mountain from the ever growing Fraser Valley. In addition to its patrol, Sasquatch has a avalanche forecaster during the winter months. Each is an opportunity for long-term employment.

Community building is also a part of Sasquatch. Ski areas are often located remotely and need to find solutions to attract and retain employees and their families. To accomplish this, Jesse Crawford was one of the architects behind the Mount Keenan Educational Society. It provides distance Kindergarten through Grade 12 education in conjunction with the school district, and also facilitates other kinds of training opportunities within the community.