by Andru McCracken

VARDA, the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association, has released its economic impact study and the bottom line is that snowmobiling brings in about”  $6.4 million to the local economy every year.

“It’s a tool to use for discussion and further promotion,” said Curtis Pawliuk, the manager of the association.

He said they often talk about the impact the tourism activity has on the local impact as they apply for grants.

“The last study was done so long ago it was nice to update the information,” he said.

Pawliuk wasn’t surprised at the results.

“I’ve known it all along and I’ve said it for years,” he said. “This was just a way to get it down on paper.”

He said that the outlook for snowmobiling is strong despite the fact that 86% of snowmobilers hail from Alberta.

“Snowmobiling is growing. I’m just leaving Revelstoke; it is absolutely packed here,” he said.

“We’ve always been concerned about the economy because our clientele is almost all Albertan; but more important is snow.”

Pawliuk said that the best indicator for a busy winter at Valemount’s snowmobiling areas is the amount of snow in Alberta. He said that if the snow is good in Alberta, sledders tend to stay at home.

Whatever the weather here in the mountains, Pawliuk said that VARDA is known for playing it straight.

“We don’t bullshit people. We make sure that when they come here their experience will be the best it can be. If it’s going off in Valemount, we’ll let people know and the town will go off.”