Warming hut approved for Canmore Nordic Centre

You'll see a warming hut in this area next winter

You’ll see a warming hut in this area next winter

This is a story which was in today’s Rocky Mountain Outlook

Cross-country skiing to the Canmore Nordic Centre meadow is about to get cozier.

The warming hut will be built in the vicinity of the meadow

The warming hut will be built in the vicinity of the meadow

The provincial government has approved a proposal to build a 30 x 30 foot wooden warming hut at the Nordic Centre meadow, situated 2.5 kilometres from the day lodge. Located just beyond the lit loop on the Banff trail, the new hut is expected to be open Nov. 1, 2015.

Able to comfortably fit 30 people, the hut will contain tables, chairs and a natural gas stove for heating. Lighting will be solar-powered, and a toilet facility will also be built. Throughout winter, the hut will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and locked overnight.

“This will be a great benefit to the Canmore Nordic Centre. It provides a great destination for families in a beautiful location,” said John Gallagher, chair of the Canmore Nordic Centre Warming Hut Steering Committee.

Canmore Nordic Centre on a cold day

Canmore Nordic Centre on a cold day

The plan is to provide a warming hut that will benefit families and novice skiers, drawing them out from the stadium on gentle, relatively flat trails, hopefully lessening congestion on Banff Trail. Obviously, it will also provide a spot to warm up on cold days and a desirable spot for a snack or lunch. The hut will also provide educational messages on the local environment.

Canmore Nordic Centre

Canmore Nordic Centre

The site was also chosen to maximize passive solar heating, and minimize its visibility from across the valley. A new 100 m trail will be constructed to the location, designed by Don Gardner and Paul Ashton.

The Canmore Nordic Centre is one of the only ski locales without a warming hut. The need for a warming hut was first identified in 1998 for the Winter Olympics, but there has not been a push for the project until 2014, spearheaded by the steering committee.

In order to keep costs down, volunteers using in-kind donations will construct the hut. A crowd-source fundraising campaign will be launched to help cover the costs and much of the warming hut will be constructed with refurbished building materials

“It will be a community-funded project as we’re looking for approximately $100,000,” Gallagher said. “We are approaching local businesses for in-kind donations.”

Once constructed, Nordic Centre staff will split maintenance duties with the hut committee.

Due to its proximity to the Georgetown Regional Habitat Patch, the hut will be boarded up over summer, closing between May 15 and Oct. 14.

Those interested in more information on the project can email Gallagher at john@trailsports.ab.ca


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  1. As Chair of the Friends of Kananaskis, I’m pleased to say we are partnering with the committee who wish to build the hut, and will be supporting the project through assisting in managing the financial aspects of the project. The responsibility for design, location, construction and maintenance of the hut remain with the Committee.

    The diligent process the Warming Hut Committee has gone through is a template for how similar projects elsewhere could be executed. Since the Friends mission is “to cooperate with the Alberta Government and community to engage in the sound stewardship of Kananaskis Country through participation and education”, projects like this that involve the community in a participation partnership are projects the Friends are in a position to support.

  2. The GBCTA is currently developing a plan to raise donor funds for design and construction of a year round Daylodge/warming hut in West Bragg Creek – stay tuned…..

  3. I have mixed feelings about the chosen location. It would be easily reachable from the day lodge and stadium for lesser skilled/fit skiers but I think it would be more useful at or near the end of the Banff Trail. I and many others would like to see the Nordic Center do some demolition of the now useless bridge structures that are, quite frankly an eyesore along the Banff Trail. The bridge decks and timbers could be re-purposed to make new bridges where necessary on a nice trail that could connect the existing dead ends of Wooded Bliss and Cold Shoulder. This would provide a very nice loop in some interesting terrain. Designing that is something I would love to do having designed trails in several locations such as Silver Star, BC.

    Additionally, K-Country/CNC should do a fair bit of cleaning up of dead falls and look seriously at a replanting program in the area NW of the end of the Bow and Banff trails. That blow down area will creep further east if severe winds are experienced in the future and degrade the forest and wind blocking capability.

  4. The biggest problem for user fees is the cost of creating and maintaining an infrastructure to collect such fees. With fees the area becomes less financially available for those on a tight budget. Many schools have trips to PLPP and a fee would be a reason for some not being able to participate. Remember too, that the area is not free from user payment but is in fact financed by our tax dollers. Perhaps a scheme could be contrived to finance a warming hut at Elk Pass by using donations but I personally would not favour anything beyond that.

    • We had fees back in Gatineau Park in QC outside of Ottawa. The fees were not an impediment for schools and clubs to use the park for training. If you can afford skis and you can afford a vehicle to get to the park then you can afford to pay to use the facilities. As for tax dollars, they do not, or should they, cover the cost of specialized uses of the part especially those require things like constant grooming of x-country trails compared to general maintenance for hiking or biking. But even there user fees are appropriate. If you enter a national park you’re paying an entrance fee. Given the provincial budget constraints and the need to better manage budgets in the longer term fees are coming and necessary. And given that user fees can also create better appreciation of the resources, they’re not a bad thing. Trick is ensuring that they go to park maintenance and not to general revenue. The Americans have done some interesting things in that regard with fees collected at national parks, keeping a % at the park at which the fees are collected.

  5. I question the value of a warming hut at this location, only 2.5 km from the large, comfortable main lodge at Canmore. Also, for seasons such as this year, there has been minimal skiing beyond the man made snow, which ends at this location. Such a facility at Elk Pass (where snow actually is present for long periods of fall, winter and spring would be much more useful.

    Assuming user fees would provide additional grooming and services such as the example described here, I would certainly be in favour of user fees in PLPP. Ski clubs such as Sovereign Lake near Vernon groom about 50 km, with much of it groomed daily. The annual pass or daily pass cost is certainly more than worthwhile, in my opinion.

  6. I think user fees at PLPP are more likely than a warming hut. 🙁

  7. If skiers want a warming hut at Elk Pass, they should raise the funds to build it, as is being done at Canmore Nordic Centre. The Alberta government is running at a huge deficit, so I don’t expect a warming hut to be a huge taxpayer priority. But there is nothing to stop skiers from funding something like on their own.

  8. It would be great if the Alberta Govt would provide a warming hut at Elk Pass. Does anyone know if this suggestion ever been made to to the Minister of Alberta, Tourism, Parks and Recreation?

    • What a great amenity that would be. The power lines are right there, too.

      • Alas, stepping down voltage from transmission lines (40kV?) requires seriously $$$ installation… I don’t think that’s a viable option for a single user.
        A simple warming hut up there would be awesome, and the less involved the government is, the sooner and cheaper it’ll happen (OK, that’s kinda cynical… and might be dead wrong). Anyhoo. your blog may serve to collect any half-committed stragglers on the idea – and shove them in the right direction. Which is… I dunno… Friends of Kananaskis is the volunteer thingy that’s partnered with Alberta Parks, right?

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