The view from the mountain cam at the top of the NorthStar quad on Friday, November 27, 2020. KAR file.

The view from the mountain cam at the top of the NorthStar quad on Friday, November 27, 2020. KAR file.

KAR outlines plans for safe ski season in Zoom meeting with Kimberley business community

The Kimberley Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom meeting on Thursday, Nov. 26 in which Ted Funston, Ski Area Manager with Kimberley Alpine Resort, discussed their strategies and what people can expect ahead of opening day, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12.

“The reason we were keen to have this call was that we wanted to share with you, the business people and other leaders in town, what we were doing up at the resort to keep people safe for this winter while skiing and riding,” Funston said. “Our hope and our goal is to have a successful ski season this winter, while keeping people as safe as we can.”

He noted that Kimberley entered the spring season with a lot of uncertainty, but that society has changed since KAR had to shut down their season early in March.

“We pulled together, stayed safe, and ended up having a very successful and safe summer season in Kimberley for golf and people out on the trails on the lakes and rivers,” he added. “So our goal is we’d like to do that again and accomplish the same kind of thing this winter.”

READ MORE: Ski hills will look different this season and Fernie Alpine Resort is no exception

He said KAR believes that skiing and riding can be “part of the solution in the pandemic,” and that it’s a great way to get out with friends and family and get fresh air and exercise, while being able to limit exposure to others.

He referenced Bonnie Henry, who recently encouraged people to get out skiing and riding.

At the start of his presentation Funston showed an image taken within the last few days up at the top of the hill on the run Twist, showing a picturesque skiers dream, with heaps of snow.

He also shared another picture from halfway up the mountain where a snowcat is grooming. The snow looks more compacted after the snowcat had packed it down.

He said that why they use words like “tentative” or “planned” regarding their opening date is simply because they can’t control the weather, but that said, he is optimistic.

“We’re trying to judge where we’re at, and we’re just under two weeks to opening. Last year was a pretty challenging season to start, and I think we’re in similar or better shape than we were in mid-December last year right now.”

He said that while natural snow is always desired, and that they’re watching the forecast for any snow on the horizon, cold temperatures are also great for KAR. Snowmaking began a few weeks ago now, with guns operating on the main run.

“The colder it gets, say down to about -15, the better the snowmaking gets, and it’s been hovering, at nights getting down to about -7 or -8.”

He said that a positive thing is they’ve recently acquired two new snowmaking guns, which helps them make snow at higher temperatures, closer to freezing.

The Kimberley Alpine Resort COVID-19 Operational Safety Plan, is a report that KAR has been working on since the summer; a roughly 100-page document that goes through every department of the resort and determines which protocols need to be in place, and how they will run the resort safely.

The plan was a collaborative effort created by the management team of KAR, the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Canada West Ski Area, the BC Ministry of Health and Worksafe BC.

One of their strengths is that they are able to use Nakiska, the first RCR resort to open this year, as an example to learn from.

“They’ve been learning a lot, they’re fairly close to Calgary, they’ve got a lot of seasons pass holders and they’ve been dealing with some fairly significant crowds,” Funston said.

KAR outlined some of their policies earlier this year in a “Know Before You Go” format. Funston hopes everyone will go online to read and familiarize themselves with the new protocols and plans prior to coming to the resort to ski or ride.

The resort will not be selling any lift tickets on site, they will all be online in an effort to both limit face-to-face interaction and reduce lines. People will be able to go online, buy a ticket and then get sent a QR code, which you will scan at a kiosk at the base of the resort.

Seasons passes will also not be processed at the resort. Paperwork and waivers have been done online and passes mailed out to people.

Face coverings will be required basically all the time except when you’re actually skiing a run. KAR has a link on their COVID policies page to a Canadian Government webpage, which indicates what kinds of face coverings are appropriate.

The resort has installed plexiglass all over the place, including in the Stemwinder and they also invested in a lot of new signage to remind people of the rules and regulations.

There will also be online health screening questions, similar to many other places.

Through Daniel Holden at the Chamber, Funston said he’s received numerous questions about seasons pass refunds.

“Until you use your pass, there’s a no-questions-asked refund policy,” Funston explained.

Similar to other resorts, there will be a limit on lift tickets, but in KAR’s case, due to the good capacity on their lifts compared to skier numbers Funston expects they will only hit their limit a few times a year, for example on the busiest days of the season around Christmas and New Years, or Alberta’s Family week.

They’ve calculated this by looking at historical numbers and knowing their busy days and slow days, and averaging how many seasons pass holders will show up on those busy days and then adding on a certain number of lift tickets they feel they can sell.

Again, they encourage people who will be skiing those days to pre-purchase their lift tickets online in advance.

There will be long lines, mostly because people will be social distancing. They also will be changing how people ride the lifts, with two lines dedicated to cohort groups and family for a maximum of four, or people who are willing to ride with others, a maximum of two.

They’ve also considered opening the resort a half hour earlier, giving locals a good opportunity to get up the hill ahead of lines. Funston said they will never force anyone to go on the chair with someone they don’t know. There will not be a singles line.

There will be changes to their food and beverage services. Something new is they will be utilizing their conference centre for serving meals on weekends and holidays. There will unfortunately not be the live music people know and love, it’s simply not possible. Their events planning similarly is not going to be the same this year, but Funston said they do want to do as much as they can, for example contests and prize giveaways.

The Kootenay House will be used on some weekends as well and the plaza BBQ area will also be used more. Buckhorn and Main will also be operating and Funston said they’re considering doing the express lunch seven days a week and it will be open for dinner. Reservations will be needed for the Stemwinder and Buckorn and Main.

“Some changes in there, again the goals being socially distance people, get them spread out, control our access points, but still offer the best service that we can,” Funston said.

Winter sports school and the rental shop are also impacted by these changes, and KAR decided not to run their daycare this year. Group lessons will not be possible and people are encouraged to call ahead to book an instructor for their family or cohort group.



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP was called to a report of a fight at an Okanagan Landing Halloween party Saturday, Oct. 31, but issued the homeowner a ticket  under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act for having too many people at the party. (Black Press file photo)
Police investigating after woman dragged, run over by truck in Jimsmith area

A woman sustained severe injuries after being allegedly pushed out a truck,… Continue reading

letter
LETTERS: Travel to Kimberley

A second home owner appreciates Mayor’s comments; a resident doesn’t agree

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read