Kananaskis ski trail grooming

I’ve barely had a moment to catch my breath, but I know the “End of Grooming” in Kananaskis is foremost in everyone’s minds. 

My own opinion is that a strong case can be made for the continuation of grooming just from the tourism aspect. I hope the out-of-province clubs who come to Kananaskis every winter will write to Jason  Nixon, our minister in charge of parks(contact info below).

The amount of money in question is miniscule in the grand scheme of things. The Alberta government used the figure of $200,000 as the cost for grooming activities in Kananaskis. 

From feedback on this blog and talking with skiers, it appears that a user fee of some sort would be acceptable to most, and would cover the costs of grooming. Administering a user fee can be cumbersome, but with the internet, it can be managed efficiently and inexpensively. For example, you can buy your season pass online for the Canmore Nordic Centre which is managed by Alberta Parks. 

What are your suggestions? Please keep it respectful. You can disagree with policy, but personal insults will not help our cause. 

As always, a hand-written letter makes the most impact but an email is better than nothing. 

Write to:

Jason Nixon
Minister of Environment and Parks
323 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6

Phone: 780 427-2391
Fax: 780 422-6259
E-mail: aep.minister@gov.ab.ca

13 Comments:

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  1. Sounds like a good plan.

    I would pay if it was not too expensive.

    Mark

  2. Does it not seem absurd that Alberta has to cut recreational funding for its residents but is still obliged to send revenue East in the name of Equalization?

    • Does it not seem absurd that Alberta gives billions of dollars to oil companies for nothing, and then cries that there is no money for doctors, teachers, or recreation?

  3. I’m in the process of drafting another letter specifically addressing the issue of trail grooming and maintenance, responding to several replies from UCP MLA’s including my own, who of course toe the party line, with little or no understanding of xc skiing. Yes- with the current economic and Covid-19 situations- parks funding may seem to be of minor consequence, but normal life will resume eventually. We can’t let this get swept under the rug!
    I’m in agreement with the GBCTA proposal for the most workable solution to funding trails, both winter and summer- a public lands recreation fee sticker or pass, available online, at visitor centres (oh, wait!) or along with your vehicle license. Yearly for residents, weekly for visitors. I believe that some American states use this approach.
    A question to anyone belonging to one of the many local outdoor clubs: has your club sent out a general e-mail alerting the membership to the “Parks Optimization”? The club that we associate with has not, surprisingly, and I was talking recently to a member of another outdoor focused club that has also neglected to inform it’s members. Shame!
    Finally- it would be a good idea to also include the opposition party in any correspondence:
    NDPCaucus@assembly.ab.ca

  4. As part of my letter writing, I also wrote a letter to Miranda Rosin, MLA Banff Kananaskis. I got a reply today which, to be frank, was rude, and the ‘cut and paste’ section of it actually was clearly cut and paste because it accused me of things I didn’t even say in the letter. It did not address any of my concerns about the incorrect usage statistics at some of the provincial recreation areas, and did not address my safety concerns about closing Barrier Lake Visitor Centre. Anyway, beyond that, there was an interesting part that was added in about trail grooming in Kananaskis. Her office staff wrote:

    “The decision to cease trail grooming was a difficult one, but I am confident we will find a solution that does not require tax funding.
    I have had conversations with the Minister and his various staff members about this, and the decision to cease trail grooming will not be reversed. This being said, we need to find a solution to ensure that our trail network is still groomed and operational for next ski season and all seasons after that. I am hoping to help lead the charge on finding this solution.
    Since the announcement to cease grooming, I’ve already had one local business express interest in taking over the duties in Kananaskis country, and have had many other businesses and recreators suggest trail fees. I’ll be speaking with industry professionals from the Kananaskis/Bow Valley area to brainstorm ideas of how the government can move forward while ensuring that trails are maintained and that local rental businesses are not harmed.
    I will be looking to host a round table to coordinate this effort when the current environment allows. We will find a solution! But the solution to everything can’t be to throw more tax money at it. That is what got our government into the difficult position it is in now, unfortunately.”

    So it sounds as if they are not reversing the grooming decision, but are looking for other formats. I do hope they host that round table – or perhaps several – I would definitely want to hear more about that.

    • I received the same email from her office. Word for word!

      I agree that some sort of fee will be the answer. Please keep up the campaign everyone. The government will be looking for a compromise. I don’t like buzz words but fees would be a “win-win” for all parties.

    • Word on the street is that the local business they are in conversation with is Fortress Mountain. I’m not really sure how they would get paid unless they create a private model like a ski area where you buy your ticket or season pass. Interesting times indeed. (welcome to Fortress Country formally known as Kananaskis)

  5. A good friend and woman passionate about Alberta Parks came to visit me last night. Since Barrier Info Centre will no longer be utilized after April 1st, could Hwy 40 be diverted through that Barrier parking area where one could show a Pass both for Alberta Parks and for all ski areas to continue to be utilized and groomed. I realize one would need to have a similar “gate” for those travelling in winter on Smith Dorrien but in summer it poses two more entry points on the other side of Highwood for those coming from Longview and Elbow hwy. This Pass would include X-C skiing at Bragg Creek, Ribbon, Skogan, Shark, and PLPP areas where grooming (and removal of hundreds of trees) is rather critical.

    Second suggestion: people must pay to park all over the State of Arizona and likely other States to utilize any parks for hiking and other purposes. Everyone just knows they have to pay to park their vehicle and it is a relatively minor fee. This might encourage more car-pooling benefits as well.

    Third suggestion: Incorporate the cost of Canmore Nordic Centre Pass to include PLPP and all those other areas. For downhill skiing, people choose to buy a more expensive pass if they want to ski in 2-3 different resorts all winter.

    Lastly: write personal letters to your MLA and Jason Nixon and remember who you vote for at the next election.

    • maybe a gate isn’t needed then, if it’s a “ski pass” or “parking pass”. I like the CNC suggestion, takes advantage of an existing collection system. Just needs enforcement somehow, someone checking parking lots. Another option: minor fee on top of winter hotel room nights, or on the Nordic spa day pass, nakiska day pass, ACC elk lakes cabin nights, etc. One problem with a cross country specific parking pass is people parking at parking lots that aren’t necessarily a groomed ski trail lot only (e.g. Kananaskis lakes, the tent ridge/commonwealth and Rommel back country parking near shark, village parking lot). Sure there are many options and combinations that should all be brainstormed and assessed.

      • Back east in Gatineau park it’s a combination of gate check (for P-19 out to Taylor lake where there’s a long road to get to the parking lot) and spot checking at parking lots for other trail heads that are more open. The NCC has staff in huts, like toll both size, in parking lots at trail heads and staff are supposed to check for passes or glare people into putting cash into the box at the trail head. I remember it working well. was back recently and i had someone watching as i put my 20$ in. went with a friend to his members only ski area further out in Quebec and same thing, except it was only 15$. Since it’s an expectation that passes are required I remember ‘everyone i know’ just getting a ski pass early to get the early bird discount. i was stunned, and a bit uncomfortable, when i first came out here and didn’t have to pay. Struck me as…bizarre, a bit irresponsible and a troubling sign for how public finances were run.

        but back to the main point, if Ottawa and Quebec can figure out how to successfully charge for skiing in large open areas then surely we can do the same. realize that’s setting the bar low 😉 I also seem remember hearing that the Ottawa library having ski passes to check out for those who couldn’t afford the daily fee.

        Bonus of having passes, we stop subsidizing skiers from other provinces and tourists.

        so, bottom line, this isn’t inventing a new theory for particle physics. other places have done this and we should be able to figure out what works elsewhere and what of that could be adopted or adapted to work here.

        Env and Parks has staff to do this, but if needed i’m sure there are other public policy folks here and i’d volunteer to chip in to help do the research and write this up.

  6. I know they’re not always successful, but I wonder if a fundraising drive would be of value. Avid skiers could consider it akin to a pass, but without needing to additionally fund personnel to police it.

    Note: The UCP is threatening to push the budget through which may mean a very short turn around time for pushing changes.

  7. You might want to add the tourism minister, Tanya Fir.

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