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

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. Photo: Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News
Interior Health opens up vaccine eligibility in Columbia Valley to 18 years or older

Only local residents can register and book appointments as COVID-19 case counts spike in the region

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

The Rec 9 and driving range are open at Bootleg Gap in Kimberley. Full course opens April 30.
Two Kimberley golf courses open for season

Purcell and Bootleg Gap are partially open today, Trickle Creek May 7

Kimberley is developing a policy on short term rentals. Air BnB screenshot.
Kimberley is developing a policy on short term rentals

The City of Kimberley is continuing the process of adopting a strategy… Continue reading

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

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

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

Most Read