Kananaskis trails will be groomed this winter

Minister Jason Nixon has announced that we’ll have grooming in Kananaskis

Parks minister Jason Nixon making the announcement

Oct 30, 2020 at 2:55 pm:

The provincial government announced this afternoon that cross-country ski trail grooming will continue in Kananaskis for the 2020-2021 season. A user-pay system will be put in place according to the Nordiq Alberta proposal. 

The areas included are Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Ribbon Creek/Kananaskis Village, Mt Shark, and Sandy McNabb. The same Alberta Parks personnel and equipment will be doing the grooming. 

You will be able to purchase your parking passes online at KananaskisGrooming.ca  starting today. 

If you have questions about the parking pass, check this page for answers 

When you log onto the Kananaskis Grooming website, you will also be given the opportunity to volunteer.  

Upon purchasing your pass, you will be sent an email with the pass attached which you can print. My pass below is for display purposes only. Your licence number will be on the pass(not your name), and for the record the numbering will start at 5000. 

Thank you to everyone who has worked diligently to make this positive outcome possible. 


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  1. How does this affect people who use the nearby snowshoe trails? Will a pass be required? Just wanting to clarify so I know what I need before I head out.

    • MD, based on what I’ve heard so far, if you stick to ungroomed snowshoe trails, I don’t think you would be expected to buy a pass, but it’s rare to see snowshoers stay completely off the groomed trails. For example, I seldom see snowshoers taking the snowshoe trail along Hydroline. They tend to go on the groomed Elk Pass trail. In that case, I think it would be fair to expect a pass purchase.

  2. First of all, thanks to Ken Hewitt, Nordiq Alberta, Bob, and everyone else who contributed to this effort. If the Kananaskis trails were outside Alberta Parks and groomed by a non-government organization similar to West Bragg, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend $50 for a pass. But I’m uneasy about doing so for Kananaskis, because I’m then implicitly supporting the government’s decision that the best way to save $200,000 is by eliminate grooming, rather than cutting back on other expenses like its Energy War Room and Corporate Tax Cuts. The War Room is a complete waste of money. It makes sense to spend money to create jobs, but why spend billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts hoping that a fraction of it trickles down into job creation? A program that rewards corporations specifically based on the jobs they create makes more sense. Rather than contributing $50 to Kananaskis, I’m considering increasing my West Bragg donations by $50 instead. I’d appreciate any thoughts others have on this issue. Specifically, how can I contribute to Kananaskis Grooming without implicitly condoning the government’s actions? On a related note, what happens if the money raised by Nordiq Alberta exceeds the grooming costs? I certainly hope it doesn’t go into the government general coffers!

    • Mike, you express my thoughts precisely! The whole thing has been handled in the most appalling fashion by this financially incompetent government.
      I’m thrilled and relieved to be looking forward to skiing on our beautiful trails again this winter, and huge thanks to Nordiq Alberta et al. The cost of the pass is very reasonable, but the whole business makes me queasy, especially with the impending closures of parks and so on.

      • I totally agree that the government has done the wrong thing, but the way I see spending these 50$ is that I’m condoning Nordiq Canada’s hard work and dedication in rescuing our ski trails in the face of an obstinate and anti-parks/conservation/non motorized recreation government. To NOT spend it I think would not only be an insult to Nordiq Canada and a talking point for the government but would jeopardize having ski trails in future seasons. All along the skiing community has been saying that we are willing to pay a fee to use these trails rather than see them fall by the wayside.

      • My feelings too. This abhorrent government has given away billions to big oil, with virtually no benefit to Albertans. Now they are nickle-and-diming us to pay for it. Having said that I am very pleased to see that the world-class XC skiing at PLPP is being maintained. Kudos to Nordiq Alberta.

  3. Does this fee apply to hikers as well? So this year because it is voluntary, you don’t need to buy a pass and will not get ticketed?

  4. It really is only reasonable to expect the people who use the XC ski trails to pay for the excellent service provided by the hard working caretakers of the trails. I feel it was not something that XC skiers could have felt would last forever to have so much hard work and cost borne by the general taxpayers for a treat enjoyed by a small fraction of the population.

    Lets pay up and be grateful for the ability to cohabit with nature on beautiful trails, enjoy the whiskeyjacks, stare with unadulterated one at the views and see people we know travelling on these peaceful pathways of snow.

    I look forward to paying for the trail makers, and hope that the experiment works and that we can go on enjoying “paying to ski” as we should.

  5. Thanks so much to everybody who helped make this happen!

  6. Lucky us to get to pay for something that was free a few months ago. Does the government seriously expect a pat on the back for this?

    • XC ski grooming wasn’t “free” in the past, it was being subsidized by the next generation of taxpayers, who will be paying off the Alberta debt. Your taxes never did cover the cost of the grooming.
      Nordiq Alberta deserves a pat on the back for putting together a proposal that provides funding to keep things going for this winter.
      This is really just a stop-gap measure for one activity for one season. The government really needs to come up with an actual long-term plan to properly fund and operate Parks and Public Lands. No sign of that yet.

      • The $4.7 billion job cremation corporate tax cut and $30 million per year war room are also being subsidized by the next generation of taxpayers. Maybe the government could have decided to reverse course on those programs that have been dismal failures and instead fund ski grooming. Governing is about choices, and this government has prioritized no-strings-attached tax breaks to wealthy corporations over recreation. Nordiq deserves credit for stepping up here, but the UCP is acting like a bank robber expecting a reward for returning the money they stole.

  7. Great initiative! Looking forward to enjoying the great trails this winter. Thanks for your work on this project – Nordiq Alberta, Ken and your team and Skier Bob.

  8. It would be nice to have the option to add both my cars plate #’s to the pass so I’m not stuck having to pick only one.

    • Hello Jeff B. It’s a fair question and one that we debated at some length. I think that, on an exception basis, you could just move the pass over and include a note of explanation (car in shop, etc). This is, after all, a voluntary program and no one is going to blow up your car (at least, not the first time) 🙂

      • Many thanks to you and your colleagues who managed to make this happen. Negotiating/discussing with this bunch of right wing ideologues who care nothing for the physical and mental health benefits of cc skiing must have been at times very frustrating and difficult.

  9. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!!

  10. Thanks to Bob and Ken Hewitt and Nordiq Alberta. I was skiing at WBC last Sunday – what a crowd! Folks were just glad to get outside and enjoy our wonderful backyard.
    Looking forward to Pocaterra!

  11. Chris, Peter & Kazzy Thomas

    Great news! Thanks to everyone who was instrumental in making this happen, especially Nordiq Alberta! And thanks Bob for promoting our great sport. Now let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

  12. Great, Great News!!!!
    Thanks to everyone who participated in this project-making process.

  13. Great news! Pass bought already w/ donation.

    Thanks for all efforts facilitating this! Looking forward to a great XC season of 2020-2021, especially in the crucial pandemic.

  14. This is excellent news. Bought and printed the pass already. Special thanks to Ken Hewitt for all his hard work in putting this program together. Looking forward to another visit to Masid’s couch! YIPPEE!

  15. BRAVO NORDIQ ALBERTA, Skier Bob and all 4600 emails and letter-writers sent in and T-Y to government officials who read and responded to them (Ministers Jason Nixon, Miranda Rosin and other elected officials). I read about this on Bob’s awesome website on 2:45 pm, and had my Parking Pass via efficient Zone 4 purchased at 3:17. We can celebrate this great news and hope Zone 4 gets overwhelmed with eager responders. Now let’s bring on the next big dump and colder temperatures.

    • Yes, Helen, I too purchased my season pass. It was effortless, and unbelievably reasonable (has anyone skied in BC?? This pass was a steal!)
      Also made a donation and put my name in as a parking lot volunteer. Cannot wait for the season to begin! (Well, it has begun already, couldn’t believe the conditions at WBC just before that Chinook rolled in [shout out to the phenomenal volunteer groomers there] not to mention Lake Louise!)
      Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the people who made this happen!

  16. * Online purchases require payment of supplementary credit card processing charges – approximately $2-$3 per transaction. Processing charges do not apply for cash payments at retailers.

    this is a rip off on $10 charge to a credit card

    • What a ridiculous complaint!

    • Yeah, for $10 that is a bit harsh, but to pay someone to be in a booth 7 hours a day would make the $10 go to $20 easily, as mentioned here, BC is $15 most places, plus HST.

    • Andrew…. as per information on the web site, IF you feel the credit card processing fees are too high, you can purchase day passes with zero extra fees at any one of six retail shops in Calgary, Canmore and Kananaskis. These will be available for purchase by mid-November. For myself, I’m happy to pay $2 extra so that I don’t have to drive anywhere else to get my pass.

      • Personally, I think Andrew’s comment’s are fair and on point because he is correct. The card processing fees are not that high. If you run through the checkout procedure you will find that at least an additional $1.00 of every transaction goes toward some sort of fund for nordic racing or something. I was waiting for someone else to point that out, but as you have to proceed through the entire checkout process and then click the ‘?’ icon to get any info on this, I’d say that the website that collects the funds is remiss in standard good practices in being up front about where all the fees they are collecting are going. Why they are adding this $1.00 to every transaction, and how they have the right to do so, is beyond me.

    • Cost of business my friend. Buy a slurpee at 7-11 and the retailer gets charged for you to put that through…

  17. Thank you Bob! That’s indeed an awesome news!

    Just bought my pass. Ready to play “Guess the date when Elk Pass Trail is trackset” 🙂

  18. First good news we’ve had in a long time. Next stop, season pass. And I’m so excited to find another volunteer opportunity – shall be putting my name in immediately as a parking lot volunteer.
    Thanks so much, Bob, for the work you do.
    And thank you Nordiq Alberta.
    Well done, all.
    Can’t wait to see you ut on the trails, and let’s hope for a fantastic xc ski season!!

  19. Thank you Bob for the information. I appreciate all your hard work and your obvious passion for the sport. See you on the trails.

  20. Annie M. Caldwell

    Thanks, Bob for keeping us informed. You are so on top of anything that has to do with XC-Skiing. I know I am stating the obvious, but I want you to know that you are super appreciated.

  21. I’m so disappointed that people in the cross country ski community capitulated so quickly and easily and fell right in the current government’s trap to privatize and offload their responsibility onto the backs of Albertans.

  22. Thank you to all that made K-Country happen for grooming this season!! <3

  23. This is great news.

    I will bite my tongue before I say something I regret about the useless penny-pinching mavens in government who thought that cutting this program was a great idea.

    • I won’t bite my tongue. It saves almost nothing and the majority of people it affects may be UCP voters. In principle I agree with user-pay, but just looking at this on its “merits” – it was a stupid idea. And I support the party (somewhat).

      Trails might be crowded this winter!

  24. For backcountry users on a multi day trip to BNP or Assiniboine that do not have an annual pass, the best solution would be to purchase 2 day passes, one for the day in, and one for the day out?

    • I should have done more footwork, as there is already an answer to this under the ‘Volunteer FAQ’s”:

      Q: What about snowshoers and alpine skiers? Do they need to pay?
      A: Trail groomers do provide maintenance and other support to all trails. So we would of course welcome a payment or donation from these people, but are not asking for one.

      • Odd. I looked at the standard FAQ link and couldn’t find out much about how it would apply to different users, so thanks for that. I wonder what trailhead Volunteers (or parking pass holders) will be saying to walkers venturing out onto user pay grooming. If they pay can they walk all over it? ACC should be charging a day pass fee for users coming through elk pass grooming. A year to work out the bugs, hopefully without much conflict.

  25. That’s great – from the sidelines it appears that people put serious effort into making this happen. We don’t use the trails, but we certainly understand the importance of them, and did write to our MLA who sits at the cabinet table.

    As someone who buys both a national park pass and a ski area pass, plus day tickets when we go to other resorts, a user-pay system seems extremely fair to me. Our province is fighting for its economic life and if we want recreation areas to exist, we may have to pony up. It is unfortunately present day reality.

    • The province isn’t fighting for it’s economic life. The UCP is removing money from things the public use, and then gives it to their CEO friends in oil and gas and other companies. Like the oil and gas companies that got money so that they can keep staff, and then they used the money to modernize and lay off staff. The only reason we have to pay for this, is so that they can give money elsewhere. While further digging alberta into the money pit

      • At least read the earnings reports before posting such ridiculous statements.

        The tax reduction applies to all corporations – not only oil and gas. Further, tax is paid on profits, not losses. Review the last few quarterly reports and count how many corporations turned a profit – it’s very few.

        Further, survey other provinces and states for what people pay to XC ski. The Alberta Government doesn’t ‘owe’ its residents free groomed trails – if you buy hockey gear, it doesn’t automatically entitle you to free ice time.

  26. Fantastic,
    I feel we pay enough taxes this should be available regardless but obviously this was cut from Provincial services so…awesome work getting a solution figured.
    Got Mine Already!

  27. Christian L'Archeveque

    Wonderful, thanks so much to everyone who got involved in making this happen!!!

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