Kananaskis Grooming Update

The following update is from Nordiq Alberta:


Aug 2, 2020: Further to previously provided information, we are aware that Fortress Mountain Ski Resorts has now submitted a proposal to the Alberta Government to keep cross country alive and healthy in Kananaskis. This proposal is based on a groomed trail user fee program that would have the direct users contributing to the grooming service in the three ‘zones’: PLPP Pocaterra, Mt Shark, and Ribbon Creek / Kananaskis Village. To date, Fortress has not received a response from the Government (nor has there yet been any response to the letter from MLA for Canmore-Kananaskis, Miranda Rosin).

Chris Mueller from Fortress notes that “Our main hope is that the service continues into the future, regardless of what entity is delivering it, as the tourism value that is provided benefits all Albertans, visitors to our province, and the many businesses in the Kananaskis area that rely on the service.”


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  1. I just read that the government is going to spend 15 million dollars in Kananaskis. Does anyone know if any of this money is going towards grooming?

  2. Hi, Ken,
    I’ve sent 2 letters to my MLA, 1 letter to Miranda Rosin, 2 to Jaosn Nixon and to Premier Kenney. The only response I’ve received is a form letter from Miranda Rosin telling me that economic times are tough and everything has to take a hit.

  3. Interesting comments here … but most of them are irrelevant. At this point, the Alberta government is not even entertaining proposals for new funding sources, new groomers or ideas. How many of you that have commented here have actually written to your local MLA?

  4. All over the province there are people eyeing their particular favorite government program and crying “Oh no, don’t cut me!” What’s a poor debt ridden government to do?

    I think under the circumstances the more realistic path (ski trail?) is to find some more creative solution than whining “don’t cut me” to the government. Some solution that doesn’t cost the government money (or even makes some).

    • Hi, Doug – I don’t actually think your comment is applicable in the case of the grooming cuts. The GOA has received very thoughtful official proposals from Nordiq Canada and Fortress about continuing grooming. One suggested a trail fee system, the other suggested a private for-profit operation in the area. Both of these proposed solutions have the potential to mostly or entirely take the cost away from Alberta Parks. For some reason, neither of these options appear to have been seriously considered by the GOA. Nobody is saying ‘don’t cut me’ – the xc community is actually seriously doing the work to keep our trail system around. I don’t find your comment helpful, and hope you will inform yourself about all the actual proposals and work going into maintaining grooming.

  5. Hi, everyone – I received the following update from Nordiq Alberta in my email today. Does anyone have an idea of what this means? It seems to imply perhaps that the Fortress proposal was rejected, and that the GOA is not planning on holding any discussions about user fees etc. Does any one have any information about this? It is all concerning to me.

    This is the email I received:

    August 20th Update

    It has recently been brought to Nordiq Alberta’s attention that as things stand currently, the complete cancellation of grooming within Kananaskis Country is going forward as planned. Additional concerns for cross country skiers relate to the potential of additional operating budgets for next fiscal year. Sustained economic impacts due to COVID-19 continue to put pressure on public funds including Alberta Parks which involves areas such as Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. This reality is saddening as more places we love to ski run the risk of ceasing operations.

    It is now more important than ever for us to make our voices heard and broaden the message to our constituents that these funding cuts affect many Albertans who access these trails. We urge you to continue contacting your MLAs and ask them to advocate for a reconsideration on these budget cuts. It is also vital that we share this campaign widely within your network in order to maximize the response from all constituencies across the province. United we have the ability to affect change with our Government to ensure that access to winter trail networks remains possible in our beautiful province.

    Nordiq Alberta is committed to communicating any and all changes to grooming as we become aware of them. We also recognize that there is more work to be done and are working to expand our network of contacts to ensure our voices reach a larger audience.

    Thank you all for your support thus far, without the help of each and every one of you these conversations would not continue to occur.

    • Sabrina wrote: “ I received the following update from Nordiq Alberta in my email today. Does anyone have an idea of what this means?”

      It means that unless there is more pressure brought to bear on MLA’s (particularly the Calgary MLA’s).. there will be NO winter ski trail grooming in Kananaskis this season.

  6. I’m a bit skeptical. The Fortress “operators” have for years been promising a new resort, but all that’s materialized so far is some Hollywood blockbusters, a few car commercials, and some bottled water using their snow-making water allotment. Oh yeah and some cat-sking too, on windblasted slopes. Meanwhile backcountry skiers like myself are shut out from this publicly owned area. So, will they really come through and groom these trails for us? Or will they sell off access rights to some movie producer and put up gates to keep out the public?

    • Well said. They have also banned a well respected guide who is questioning Fortress’s water bottling plan, going so far as to ban him from teaching AST1 on Fortress property while working for UofC:


      • Strike 1 = ‘The respected guide’ shows no modicum of discretion and publishes the email string;

        Strike 2 = Every Water Act Licence has a public notice period for objection. Complaining to Fortress about their Alberta Environment-issued diversion licence is barking up the wrong tree;

        Strike 3 = Ongoing badgering and essentially calling the guy a dick via email isn’t going to win any friends.

  7. Opening the door to “non-ski use” goes against all that is pure and good about winter.

    • What is the “non-ski use” to which you refer?

      • That reply was meant to refer to MaSid’s post below. I clicked the wrong “Reply”

        I believe he was implying that a lack of X-C skiers would lead to a proliferation of users who have not yet discovered the joy of sliding.

        • eg. snowshoers, winter hikers/walkers, fat bikers, trail runners, people with sleds, people with dogs, etc.

          • Hmmm… When you list all the other potential winter trail users it makes me think the track set xc skiers might be lucky to have a couple of trails dedicated to them. We (xc track set skiers) must look like a bunch of precious special princes and princesses with our demand for groomed trails for our exclusive use. Not a heck of a lot different than the dh skiers at Nakiska or the golfers on the Kan golf course. If one looks at it this way, I think it supports an argument for a user pay/fee for service approach for exclusive use of a few trails.

  8. I like it! I have no problem with paying a user fee. It hadn’t occurred to me that Fortress Mtn could be an operator but it makes perfect sense. Of course it should be a contract up for review every few years. Maybe RCR (Nakiska) could also be interested. Maybe Alberta Parks should put out a request for proposals ASAP.

    • Interesting. fortress might be motivated by other government approvals needed, or prove their grooming prowess. So maybe nakiska will bite. I remain hopeful but anticipate more backcountry and skier set track in the coming season with lots of none ski use also. If nothing it should at least be entertaining and a good workout. (-:

      • And get your new light touring gear before they sell out, or pick up some old Tua’s or equivalent. The hot topic on skier.bob might be fresh skier set tracks on former groomed trails in Kananaskis, if West Bragg and BNP become too busy.

        • Anybody know how to put a live GPS on Chuck?

        • While you’re thinking about your light touring gear, you might want to start planning for a Tom Snow ski tour from WBC. The GBCTA volunteer crew has just finished clearing all the brush and deadfall on the portion of Tom Snow that goes north from Moose Loop. You could tour all the way out to Highway #68 and make it into a Chuck style adventure.

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