Andru McCracken, Editor

Andru McCracken, EDITOR

For the first time in 50 winters, Valemount will, in all likelihood, have a ski lift operating close to town.

It will start small. And that’s the best way to start.

It’s not just what is being planned, but who is planning the next steps, conquering the challenges, raising the enthusiasm and finances to make it happen. Local folks are coming together to make this project happen.

For everyone struggling under the weight of social distancing imposed by COVID-19, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Valemount will emerge from this pandemic, quite possibly better than ever.

I don’t know if the tiny lift will drive ski tourism, but with something to do in this town in wintertime will probably attract quite a few people. The project stands to make town a whole lot livelier in the wintertime and it is a good example of economic diversification. That’s good news considering trends in snowmobiling and the economic troubles our Albertan friends are seeing.

We will see a new generation of volunteers step up, offering their expertise, working as ski patrol, manning the lift. You may doubt the breadth and depth of the volunteer pool in

Valemount, but we’re better suited for volunteer work away from the board table and out of doors.

If you had told me years ago that Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort (VGDR) would start with a teensy tiny lift at the very bottom of their tenure, I would have laughed. If, after repeated exhortations, you had managed to convince me that it was true, I would be jubilant.

Here are five reasons I’m delighted with this opportunity.

We can do this. Cutting runs, installing a small piece of machinery that looks a lot like a high lead, preparing the access? This is what we do. We can make this happen.

We can afford this. With the lift in hand, a master plan drawn, we can do this without breaking the bank.

We’re going to connect the community in a new way. Do you know a bunch of other people on your block that love to ski? You will soon.

This is going to make long winters a lot more fun for local kids and, like we always do, we will create some awesome athletes. See all those kids learning to walk? Those toddlers learning to bike? Wait a season or two and they will be shredding the slopes.

People will be spending more time in, on and around mountains. Screens may be saving us from going crazy during COVID-19 (are they really?), but we need more time in nature, even when it’s cold outside.

VGDR back in the beginning was really responsive to the community. VGDR was alive to the challenges this project could place on the community and planned for it. The proponents listened. But after the project got its first big backers, the responsiveness to the community waned. The ball was in someone else’s court and they weren’t telling us about the challenges they were facing. That uncertainty, that lack of information drained our enthusiasm for the project.

For me, putting the project back into the community’s court is about the smartest thing they could do. The proponents of VGDR really are putting our community first. They’ve admitted that funding the project has been slower than expected and because they love skiing and know how great it is, they’re going to help us get started. That’s awesome all around.