Responsible Stewardship

CWSAA’s Commitment to Responsible Stewardship

Western Canadian ski resorts have had an intimate and inter-dependent relationship with the environment since the mid-1900s as skiing became an important part of Canada’s economic and social fabric.

A true collaboration with Mother Nature, Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) members take pride in this connection and their ability to be responsive and forward-thinking when it comes to environmental initiatives.

CWSAA firmly believes there is an opportunity to work and play in harmony with the flora, fauna, and water sources that, together, create the breathtaking beauty that residents, guests, and staff are privileged to witness each day.

As weather systems continue to shift and become more and more talked about at the dinner table, ski areas remain committed to their responsibility to land stewardship, and are taking increasing strides to reduce their footprints and complement operations with the land.

Through new technology, amended techniques, and greater understanding of the environment, CWSAA members are advancing best practices.  Ski areas are working closely with partners to better protect wildlife. Operational procedures are guided by environmental management systems. Composting programs are keeping more food waste out of landfills and reducing the volume of litter. Snowmaking technology increases water efficiency and complete return to the environment.

Environmental responsibility also goes beyond the logistical execution of tasks and includes guests themselves.  Ski areas and their guests are on a journey together to educate and inform one another about their environmental footprint and the steps they can take to reduce their collective impact.

This is a journey that all must partake, and ski areas view their participation and leadership as essential ingredients to being good stewards of the land.

Common examples of how ski areas are responding to climate change:

Increased investment in snow-making and other measures to ensure snow and product reliability.

  • The majority of major ski areas in BC & Alberta and most of those on the Prairies currently have snow-making systems in place.
  • Enhanced summer grooming is being conducted to allow for safe & enjoyable skiing with less snowfall.

Ski areas are diversifying into summer businesses.

  • This includes activities such as sight seeing, mountain biking, adventure parks and golf.

Ski areas have invested in water conservation and sewage disposal methods, and energy conservation such as geothermal, solar, and energy efficient fixtures.

Resort design considerations are complex and have shifted in priority.

  • Higher lift elevations may be given value over lower elevation options
  • Northern aspects can allow for greater snow retention
  • Trails can be shaped to provide greater shade and snow capture

CWSAA has partnered with the scientific community and other subject matter experts to enhance understanding of the impact that climate change will have on the industry.

Suppliers to industry are also embracing this challenge and using technology to increase energy efficiency (eg: snowmaking) and reduce emissions (eg; snowmobiles, snowcats).

This position statement was approved by the CWSAA Board and published to the CWSAA website December 2019.