Who wants to do an interview with the media?

Re: End of Grooming in Kananaskis

Here’s your chance to do something constructive and useful about this issue. As you know, I am not in the SkierBob universe right now. A reporter from CTV news has contacted me for an interview but I told her I would ask my readers to contact her.

Stephanie Thomas 403-463-8489 or email at Stephanie.Thomas@bellmedia.ca

Update: Stephanie received many calls, thanks everyone!

More media requests. Please contact these reporters…

  • My name is Carrie Tait. I’m a reporter with The Globe and Mail’s Calgary bureau. I’m writing about Alberta’s decision to cut funding to parks and programs like grooming. I’m wondering if you can help me out. I’m looking to speak with folks who will be affected by this, as well as sort out grooming costs. I see you have some numbers on your website, but hoping you can explain how you calculated them. I’m at 403 245 2711 and on deadline for this afternoon.
  • Could you ask some of your blog readers to get in touch with me on this trails thing? My name is Bob Weber and I’m a reporter with The Canadian Press in Edmonton. As the national wire service, our stories go out to pretty much every news outlet in Canada. The number is 780-412-6259. Thanks.
  • If anyone would consider chatting with CBC Calgary News, please let me know, as well. david.bell@cbc.ca.

Update on the grooming costs:

PLPP snowcat lease is 75k/ season. New cat every 3 to 4 years. Cost of new Pisten-Bully  $300 k +. The hours put in the PLPP cat per season would mean purchasing a new cat every 4 to 5 years. Snowmobiles are about 14 k with a lifespan of about 5 years.

Ribbon Creek snowcat was purchased used for 92 k with an operating cost of 5-7 k per season. It is 13 years old and probably can be nursed for another 5 years before it requires major repairs.


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    As a lot of trails in the Parks are over growing with trees and the trails have become narrower over the years as a result. Trails like Elk Pass and Watrdige Lake use to have nice wide ski skating lanes but now they do not for the most part. This has had a negative impact on the ski skating industry of course along with the associated economic spin off effects.

    As many of the ski trails now do not include skating lanes, the use of snow cat grooming machines is over kill. Trails that just have one or two tracksets could easily be groomed by snowmobile grooming equipment like what occurs at Shaganappi in Calgary or Banff. This would require a little more labour but it would reduce the capital and or operational costs of using snow cats- greatly.

    There are ways to reduce xc trail tacksetting costs greatly while the existing ski trail system and maintaining Provincial Parks controlled services while not charging people for xc skiing. The benefits outweigh the negatives from an economic spin off effect point of view to maintain free skiing.

    Furthermore, a number of trails have been closed down over the years, like ones that where accessed from the Chester Lake parking lot area. Alberta Parks has cut the cost of cross country ski trail grooming over the last decade or so. They can still make cuts without cutting back universally free skiing which boosts the tourism industry. Universal free skiing allows all Albertans to enjoy the sport including the poor, families and laid off workers.

    When you are laid off from work, it is nice to know you can still enjoy a cheap day of xc skiing to get your mind off of the corporate rat race society we live.

    Its cheaper to keep ‘er.

  2. Hi Skiers. Im with a snowmobile club that been grooming our trails for years now. In 2000 the Alberta Snowmobile Association brought in a provincial trail pass to assist clubs with the cost of running a trail system. Groomers drags, trail maintenance, fuel, other equipment, all covered by trail pass and a HUGE amount of other fundraising. Raffles,bingo,casino rallies etc. You will do good as a group and self fund your activities and maybe do a better job than what the government has been doing for you. It has been over 15 years since the government groomed any snowmobile trails. We pay a fee for registration and get nothing back. Its time for a provincial trail pass for all users.


      Snowmobilers tend to be wealthy people. It is an expensive sport and it does not have as many patrons as cross county skiing. It is also much harder on the environment than cross country skiing . There are many differences, including the requirement for more snowmobile groomed trails in terms of kilometers. As you know, snowmobilers would not enjoy a relatively short trail like a cross country skier would. A snowmobile generally travels 60kph where a classic cross country skier travels about 6kph.

      It is not legal for civilians to use snowmobiles in the Provincial Parks like Peter Lougheed. The government would have to make some sort of legislation change which would be expensive and time consuming.

      To support trail passes for all users means poor people will be left out. The poor should not have a barrier to entry for using the trail system for self propelled activities. The poor deserve access to our parks like anyone else. To say otherwise shows lack of empathy for all the poor and laid off workers out there along with those on fixed incomes.

  3. So much enthusiasm for user fees here! I’ll sign up for that when I get back my share of the subsidy given to the Calgary Flames…

  4. Seems like many XC ski areas in BC do quite well with user fees. Dawn mountain in Golden is $12 for adult day pass – not bad eh? Having said that, where is the line drawn then on user fees? Why single out XC skiing only? What about trail fees for OHV and horse riders? (Costs $ to maintain their trails too). But maybe pay per use is avoided with year round day passes like national parks and most provinces have? Time for open and informed public discussion on all this. After all, don’t the parks belong to all Albertans, not the current government?

    • Snowmobilers in Alberta have a voluntary provincial Trail Pass. Its $80.00 to $90.00 per snowmobile for the year. We pay $60.00 to register our snowmobiles and receive none of that back from the Government for trail upkeep. We have a $25.00 day pass as well. In BC the snowmobile clubs charge a $20 to $25 day use fee to snowmobile there. BC has no provincial trail pass. OHV users in Alberta have no trail program and have a very hard time putting a approved trail on the ground.

  5. I fear there is a push for either a non profit or for profit group to take over Nordic ski operations in PLPP (what about Ribbon and Mt. Shark?) with people thinking it’s easy, anyone can do it. That statement is very far from an accurate statement.

    Suffice it to say my opinion has gone back to keep grooming and track setting in the hands of Parks staff, and I will further to say keep campgrounds in the hands of Parks, as they are HUGE revenue generators which translates to offsetting if not completely paying for Parks operations year round!

    Privatization arguably means lower standards, and definitely means lower wages that are usually minimum wage, not a living wage.

    Many Parks in Alberta have taken back the summer operations from private operators because of the simple fact that summer operations are revenue generators.
    Also notice in the budget cuts that summer campground operations are being scaled back in the campgrounds Parks still runs!

    Lastly: It is likely emotions aren’t going to change the direction the gov’t has taken this. Facts and figures, and also dollars such as tourism impacts will speak volumes. Also the argument the oil patch can be given tax breaks and yet the gov’t can’t spend some money on Parks?

    Linda M



    Do you know that some American states spend millions of dollars per year to groom snowmobile and cross country trails? But Alberta’s Government no longer will.

    I have for sometime being advising people on Skier Bob’s website that the blizzard of XC skiing cuts was coming. When the citizens in the last Provincial election voted in Kenney, I knew that Park XC skiing cuts were coming for sure. When Kenney cut corporate taxes by over $4 billion and increased the deficit more than the last government, “the writing was on the snow” as to cuts to XC ski trails.

    Kenney slashed corporate taxes by over 4 billion dollars which put the Province into a declining structural economic situation that economists were warning against. Yes, we needed to reduce the deficit but Kenney made it worse by bringing in corporate tax cuts at the worst possible time while not wanting to generate government revenues in other areas. The pro corporate Kenney government had other non tax and tax revenue options but they chose not to take them for ideological reasons and ignorance.

    Kenney wants private management of the Provincial Parks. He suggests he would like First Nations or municipalities to take over the Provincial Governments job of running the parks but that is just not very realistic when the Parks were not meant to be revenue generators. Municipalities are having a hard time with debt as well these days due to many factors which the Provincial Government forces on them, such as the inability to collect taxes from oil corporations who fault on tax payments. Kenney may very well privatize all the parks which must be stopped if all Albertans, no matter their income level, are to enjoy the Parks universally. Our Parks belong to the people and are a form of a universal social program. They are good for our health, the environment, the economy, flood control and much more. Our Parks must not be privatized so only wealthy people can afford to play in them, like what is occurring in our National Parks like Banff. All people must have the opportunity to use the parks, not just the wealthy. This is an Albertan right not a privilege. This is the true Alberta Advantage which universally benefits all Albertans.


    Now as for the above mentioned costs for trail grooming equipment, it seems a little high for the cost of leasing a groomer at $85k per year when a new one can be bought for $300k per year. Leasing is always a poor investment compared to buying. There are ways to get deals on snow cats to reduce prices, such as cooperative buying with ski resorts or other industries. Volume purchases mean cheaper costs. Also, there are different options for snow groomers in terms of size and brands. Tucker Sno Cat machines tend to be the cheapest on the market. They are also the easiest to service traditionally.

    Buying used makes more sense than buying new. Ritche Bros Auctions often have snow groomers for sale in Alberta in December at the Edmonton/Leduc auction site. The oil industry tends to use these up north to maintain ice roads. These machines often make it to the auction.

    Now big snow cat groomers, like Piston Bully’s make great trails for cross country skiing. However, in recent years these cats have become “over kill” on trails that do not have skating lanes. Many trails have had the ski skating lanes eliminated as trails have become overgrown by trees. There is no need to use big snow cats or groomers for trails when the trails are only track set for classic XC skiing. Snowmobiles work fine for this. Big snow cats are ideal for skate skiing XC trails. The one advantage of big snow groomers is that there is less grooming labour involved, usually, and they can make better trails with poorer snow when compared to snowmobile grooming equipment. Snowmobiles use much less fuel and are much cheaper to maintain. Used snowmobiles that can be used to groom the classic XC ski trails are very cheap. That is all Parks Canada in Banff uses.

    Snow groomers and snow mobiles can be used for potentially a decade or more depending on maintenance. The snow groomers used in Peter Lougheed Park do not get the same kind of hard use as at ski hills. At the ski hills, the snow cats work much harder pushing around hard man made snow.

    One way to save money on fuel for snow cats is to use bio diesel. Used frying oil from restaurants could potentially be obtained very cheaply or even free. Skiers may smell French fries as they ski behind such snow cats which might make them fell very hungry. Bio diesel drops could be made by skiers. Also, cheaper natural gas could be used to displace diesel as well potentially.

    One last comment about XC skiing politics. Our political system in Alberta is stupid and archaic. Voting for parties that offer you limited or no real options is so old school it is ridiculous. I am sure many XC skiers voted for the UCP without knowing that funding for XC trail grooming would be eliminated. Kenney did not come out and say he would cut XC skiing, nor did he say he would cut corporate taxes by over $4 billion. In a modern computer era, the people should have the legalized right to vote on bills before the Legislative Assembly along with the ability to introduce citizen initiated legislation. This would enable people to stop legislation they don’t like that a party wants to bring in, which is what real democracy looks like. This is democratic choice. The oligarchy parties do not offer choice like what a democracy does. Furthermore the people would also have the option to introduce legislation and form the government in any way they wish. People could get rid of political parties if they wanted to for example.

    If we had the legalized right to vote on bills before the Legislative Assembly, the corporate tax cuts and cross country ski trail cuts likely would not have occurred and our Province would be in much better shape financially today with less debt. There would be no undemocratic risk of our parks being privatized and made expensive to use.

    Bill voting rights for you ends the same old same old corrupt political system which benefits the 1% mainly. Nothing else will This is what real democracy looks like.

    Ski it up while you still can. Contact your MLA and tell them to reverse the cuts to ski trails and corporate taxes. Tell your friends and family to do the same. We have the cheapest corporate tax rates anywhere in Canada and one must ask why as it does not create more jobs or make for an Alberta Skiing Advantage.

    Politics- if you don’t participate you collaborate with those in power. Silence can’t be heard. Demand Bill Voting Rights 4U.

  7. I sincerely hope you can find some great articulate people to meet with these reporters. What about the fact that an active lifestyle that the trails promote keeps people out of the health care system?

    • The XC stats build the case for dropping free grooming, not keeping it.

      Trimming the grooming budget has been under discussion for years – it’s low hanging fruit and generates negligible to negative return on investment. Day tripping to PLPP, Ribbon Creek or Shark to ski on free trails simply doesn’t cover costs – groomer, diesel, labour, insurance, facilities.

      Buying a $5 hot chocolate at Pomeroy Nordic Spa or stopping for lunch in Canmore isn’t going back into the trail systems either. Bring on user-pay … it’s one of the core reasons personal tax is low in Alberta. You’re free to spend your $ where you want.

      • Actually that isn’t true. Because it is in a Provincial Park, people can’t just “spend $ where they want”. It is under government control, so that prohibits it. I can’t just go buy a Pisten Bully and tow it down to PLPP to do my own custom grooming. Although going rouge is sounding attractive at this point… ?

        One of the issues is going to be how to collect user fees. That alone will cost extra resources. If you look at the amount the province is spending on this, it is a relatively small cost compared with the overall benefit for so many people.

        Oh, and I live in YYC too. Come out to Confederation Park sometime and enjoy the free skiing ?

        • Confederation Park isn’t ‘free’. The initial capital was raised a few years back that bought the equipment and every organized group (e.g. Foothills, SpaceDogs, etc.), pays a levy that funds operations. So if you’re not paying via a group or the Nordic Trails Alliance (or volunteering), you’re part of the problem – not the solution.

          Issuing K-Country Sno-Passes would be as simple as leveraging the existing membership system used at CNC. Offer CNC only, CNC + K-Country or K-Country only options.

          And yes, you’re free to spend your $ on the activities you want to. The trails will still be there, get some light backcountry gear and XC the ‘authentic way’.

          • Excellent points. The other option is a broad based system, based on a park entry fee, similar to BNP. But some caution to talking about how to fund winter grooming options. I would only offer my support to such an alternative system conditionally, that the lands still be protected. Might be a worthwhile thought in response to the larger issue of divestment of the pronvincial park protection system.

            • BILL VOTING RIGHTS 4u

              Park pass fees are unfair and are a regressive tax to low income people who can not afford them. That is about 45% of Calgarians now or more.

              Park passes create a barrier to entry for those who are low income or have no income, like unemployed oil workers. No Parks in Alberta should have barriers to entry of any kind as the land belongs to all the people- not just those that are wealthy and can afford to pay.

              I have been going into the Peter Lougheed Park area long before it was a Park. I was against the idea of making the area a park in the 1970’s for various reasons. The area could have been protected with government legislation rather than creating a park. Parks require administration to run them which requires money. We would be better off not to create parks if we want to save money, but parks are easier to market to tourists around the world which brings in big government revenues. The government could still groom trails on crown land that is not a park if it wanted to.

              Keep the Alberta Advantage and do not charge for parks that are owned by the people of this province. We deserve that as the rest of Alberta has been butchered by various industries that have primarily benefited a select few elite the most. The rest of us deserve a slice of what is remaining of Super Natural Alberta the way it was meant to be- free of charge.


        I disagree with what YCC stated in reguards to dropping free grooming. The Ski Council statistics are not scientifically specific to Alberta and can not be used to make accurate assumptions in Alberta.

        No one can make an assumption on the economic spin off effects from a statistical report that is not specific to the region nor asks questions on spending.

        There is no study that YYC indicates or suggests there is a negative return on investment with XC ski grooming in Alberta. Investment has to be defined with broad terms, including phycological and physical health benefits which reduce health care costs along with increasing economic productivity from better health. No study has shown how xc skiing reduces the government health care budget due to better health. Then there is skier spending on oil and gas for vehicles which helps the oil industry along with oil change service centres and auto shops that tune up vehicles.. Then there is skier spending on tires which benefits companies like Canadian Tire and its employees. Then there is spending at ski shops for boots, skis, poles, clothing etc. Then there is spending on food at cafes or stores to fuel skiers. Then there is the reduction in crime as skiing kids are off the streets and having fun rather than creating mischief. Then there are ski tourists coming from outside of Alberta spending money in Alberta.

        YYC has also suggested buying a $5 dollar hot chocolate or lunch “isn’t going back into the trail system either.” This is not true as taxes from such sales support the trail system.

        YYC suggests bring on user pay. This may mean paying $20/day like in many places in BC. The poor can not afford that and it would reduce tourism. Many people around the world read Skier Bob and some of those people come here to ski. This brings money into Alberta which there are no stats for. This helps a number of businesses as well as government revenues. The government does not advertise the XC skiing here. They are not showing XC skiing in ads on TV yet they promote skating in Calgary and downhill skiing in Banff as well as dog sledding. The government is missing out on opportunities for the people and businesses by not promoting and cutting the XC skiing budget to zero.

        YYC says “user pay…it’s one of the core reasons personal tax is low in Alberta.” This is completely inaccurate as it is the oil industry revenues that the government has used to keep personal tax low in Alberta, along with debt financing. This is one of the reasons why there is so little money in the Heritage Trust Fund and why corporate taxes are so cheap here.

        Free low cost cross country skiing is a part of the Alberta Advantage which benefits a lot more than what most eyes can see- unless you have some economics education or just have good vision.


      Although the Ski Council stats are not specific to Alberta, it is obvious that women and their children will be affected most by Kenney’s Ski and Corporate Cuts along with the lower income people.

    • Thanks for sharing this study – very interesting!

  8. try Hugh Burton – he is One of your followers very knowledgable Of the cross country skiing
    issues- history/ And politics

  9. If anyone would consider chatting with CBC Calgary News, please let me know, as well.


    Cheers, Dave

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