This is part two of the transcript of the video of the panel discussion event The Future of Snow and Skiing in a Warming World. To return to part one, click here.
CH: Dirk, you didn’t have that storm that Bob was talking about, so it was some change in micro climates between Nakkertok and Gatineau Park. You were telling me earlier about innovations you’ve made preparing the ground in the off season so that you can continue grooming in low snow conditions. Do you want to talk about that?
Dirk Van Wijk: First, I just wanted to say that this is probably a way bigger problem than just skiing, although that’s why we are all here. (applause) I am happy to see all the skiers out. I did take that from all the articles I’ve read.
I’m not a climatologist either, I’m a Nordic skier and a white water person I don’t think we can really afford to ignore the facts, and Stephan has said those already. The increased CO2 and the increased temperatures at higher elevations, or latitudes.
Time = 37:20
Obviously we are seeing a global mean sea level rise. The scary thing for me personally is when I read the same article that Renée was just speaking about. The reality that my children who are in their twenties, when they are my age might not be able to ski in GatineauPark. That’s cross country skiing. It is fairly unrealistic for us to blow snow and make snow on all the trails in GatineauPark and probably at Nakkertok or any Nordic area. Although Nordic ski centers are bringing in those systems and bringing in snow to accommodate the fact that we have less snow and the fact that we have shorter seasons.
So where we begin on this very small scale to accommodate the fact that we have less snow is making trails smoother. We spend a lot of time doing that we put grass down on the trails, so the groomers don’t hit as many rocks. I know that in GatineauPark they have shifted some of their focus into the parkways for skiing and on some of the larger trails. They have shifted the focus away from grooming some of the small trails much to our chagrin.
Drainages are being worked on to avoid the disappearance of snow that happens when we do have water or rain events. We try to get out on the ski trail as soon as we can when there is enough snow to try to start packing down snow and make sure ground freezes, which helps maintain snow. Those are just small things.
What is being done on a much larger scale, mainly in Europe and I think we are seeing it right now in Sochi, where they made ( I think I read somewhere) half a million cubic metres of snow, and stock piled it from last winter to this winter. This is a huge expense of course. Here in Canada we do something similar in Canmore. Canmore Arctic centre makes snow and stores it for the summer. They uncover it and spread it out on a 500m by one kilometre trail for early season skiing. It’s called Frozen Thunder. It is quite successful. On an even more expensive stretch is skiing tunnels, for indoor skiing.
Time = 40:02
We are seeing many of those in Finland. There’s a couple in Sweden and another in Obertsdorf in Germany that was just finished.
Snow farming happens a lot where they’re catching snow in higher elevations in gullies and pushing it down into lower elevation areas. Snow farming is also done with snow fences where they’re catching wind drifts and pushing it around into areas where they need it. All these things are hugely expensive and… anyway that’s sort of what’s happening in the Nordic industry in a nutshell.
Time = 40: 44
CH: Excellent. So I think that we are moving on in time. So I wanted to get the video of my talk with Sarah Renner going too, so why don’t we watch that and then we will come back to the panel.
CH: Thanks, thanks very much Sarah for being willing to participate in the panel. What was it that made you decide to get involved in Play it Cool?
Time = 40:59
Sarah Renner: There was a year in the World Cup that there was so many World Cup cancellations because of weather and sort of drastic measures to make races go off like blowing snow up at high elevation and trucking it down and I think it was stemmed from a sort of feeling of what can we do personally. If winter is important to us and all of the evidence suggests that humans are changing the climate, well then what can an individual do and how can an athlete lead by an example in hopes that other people will sort of share that message.
CH: So do you remember in terms of your awareness of climate change, a specific turning point in- when you thought it was something that you know the light went on for you?
SR: I would say it was just sort of the reality of the World Cup and I remember racing above the Arctic Circle in November and there was no snow. So that was you know, that was pretty shocking and then the locals were all very obviously concerned about it and I think when you’re in a winter sport and it’s so focused on snow that its always on everyone’s minds so kind of year after year I think it became more and more difficult to hold cross-country races in these traditional places until you know now a lot of the time snow is built and stock-piled the winter before under sawdust and kept throughout the summer and then ready for the race course the following fall. Humans are very inventive and they come up with ways to… I mean the passion for sport is huge, but it’s still, you know it’s not winter like it used to be.
Time = 43:20
CH: In your involvement in trying to promote awareness about the problem are there any lessons that you have learned that you would want to share?
SR: Well I think, you know when we…it was a really interesting endeavour starting Play It Cool because it was… I think athletes want to do something and it’s really difficult to speak about being a leader in the environment without taking those personal steps and I think what we found also was how difficult it is to be an advocate for the environment because it’s such a- its so close with economics and here we are from Alberta saying we’re concerned about the climate and our whole economy is based on oil and we all know that it’s not the cleanest form of oil so I think in some ways we became real targets. It’s a difficult position to be in to say this is what I care about, we are taking more than our fair share essentially as people of this earth and how do we be different people, how do we be conscious global citizens and how do we look our children in the eyes and say I cared and we knew what was going on and we did something so for me it really came from that I want to acknowledge that this is where we are and be responsible, be a responsible human citizen
Time = 44:58
I would say that it was a difficult position and… in my view, the only position. So what happened specifically is right before, I think it was the Vancouver Olympics, we- my husband Thomas delivered a letter to the Prime Minister’s office in Calgary, and it was signed by over 200 winter athletes, encouraging Canada to take firm, have a firm supportive sort of stand point in the Copenhagen. It was a big media event and after that our website just got absolutely deluged with hate mail.
Thomas wouldn’t let me read it because it was before the Olympics and he knew how distracting it would be, but I could tell personally that it really influenced him and it was really shocking. We were advised by a friend of ours who is the President of the Pembina Institute at the time and he said, you know a lot of these e-mails that you receive are actually from people who are hired by the oil companies to write them and you know they are designed to intimidate and it was I have to say it was really difficult and at the same time I think it strengthened our resolve. For us it is personal and the best thing we can do is lead by example and you know to have a voice.
Time = 46:47
I think as an older athlete and just sort of as a mature person you realize that it’s what you feel is important so it’s probably the most … difficult position and topic for an athlete to support because you’re limiting sponsors, especially in a place like Alberta and… you need to have clear view of what is important.
CH: Play it Cool ran its course…
CH: Anything else that you know of that’s in the works or anything that people returning from Sochi will be able to hook on to?
SR: I don’t know if there’s a current program that’s similar. I know that that program was well adopted by the NHL with Andrew Ference and so there’s nothing that’s replaced that which is a shame but I think that there is, you know that awareness and will amongst athletes and I wouldn’t be surprised- I am optimistic that something else will take its place. I think it’s really important to use your vote and let our leaders know what you feel is important and I also really feel it’s important that you think about your money as your vote also and put your money in what you care about and make purchases that reflect your values. I think that’s very important and to get to know your elected officials and especially your municipal leaders are quite accessible so there is an opportunity to make an impact close at home where it matters the most because that’s where you spend your most time.
Time = 48:55
CH: What’s your reaction to no skiing in GatineauPark within your children’s life times, maybe even yours?
SR: I can’t imagine a world without skiing because I just love it so much and I love all aspects of it, I loved training as an Olympic athlete. I loved it when I was a child. I love taking my children out and I think there is something so inherently Canadian about being outside in the winter and enjoying time in the great outdoors. Sliding around on the snow is so fun. So, I guess I can’t imagine that and I don’t want to let my heart go there.
Time = 50:00
CH: That’s how I feel too. I mentioned Play it Cool; Sarah Renner and her husband Thomas Grandi were two of the original leaders and kind of prime movers in this movement, probably about five years ago, to get through to our athletes, all working together to make a difference and Patrick Bates was also participating in that so I was really glad to get a chance to talk to her.
So we’ve gone through almost an hour now so I think that what I’d like to try and do is, we promised some door prizes and some raffle prizes so why don’t we do that, and then we’ll go to questions from the audience because I think your questions will probably be more interesting than mine.
Janice I think is grabbing the prizes.
I also said that we’d talk not only about the challenges we are facing but also what we can do about it. I have over the last couple of years started to do public talks about climate change and I never like to do a talk without giving people something they can actually do so I have a sort of top four things that you can do, usually they say you should stick to three items, but this is important so there’s four.
#4 is save energy because every time you flick on a light switch or turn the key of your car, very likely something is burning somewhere and very likely when it burns it’s producing carbon dioxide, which is the chief problem that is causing us difficulty with climate change and, we all know that, we’ve been told it for thirty or forty years that we should save energy. Unfortunately as a society we seem to be using more and more anyway so I think just to keep ourselves from being hypocrites we have to try to save energy, but we better not think that that’s all we need to do.
#3 on the countdown, there’s a group called 350.org and their suggestion is to divest, which means that they think along the lines that we stopped apartheid in South Africa by stopping investing in South Africa and so if you have a portfolio you should think about whether it includes coal, oil, or gas and think if you can remove yourself from that market.
#2 on my top four count down very much dovetails with that, I mentioned 350.org, this evening’s presentation is put on with Ecology Ottawa, and this is the group that I spend so much time volunteering for. Number two is: support a group, there are a lot of groups out there looking and we work better as a group than we do individually so find someone you fit in with. They all need your help, whether it’s financial help, or organizing help, or volunteer help, please help support a group.
#1 the most important, and actually the easiest, is talk to your politicians. I don’t re-insulate my house every month, I don’t give money to a group every week, but I phone people and e-mail people every day, so it’s pretty easy to tell your elected officials how you feel. If you think this is an important thing, tell them that, because elected officials they think what’s important is what their voters tell them is important. So please engage with your elected officials.
Time = 53:47
CH: Janice if you could take one of those and maybe give another volunteer, one on each side and we’ll use them for the questions from the audience.
Audience Member 1: Thanks Janice. Thanks to all the panellists. You’ve talked about, mostly tonight about how the ski industry can adapt in the face of climate change. I am very glad to hear that there are plans in place to do that, but so far we’ve seen average warming of less than a degree Celsius and some of the projections, some of the models take us to three degrees, four degrees, some of them take us to eight degrees, at that level of warming you’re not going to be able to adapt, and none of us will be. Both Charles and Sarah Renner on the Skype video talked about the importance of talking to politicians in general, Sarah said municipal politicians in particular. One reason as I understand it that this gathering has been called is that in the middle of this year the OttawaCity- the City of Ottawa will be releasing its revised Climate Change Action Plan after it allowed the previous one to expire. So my question is to anybody on the panel, including the moderator, is how can anybody in this room begin the momentum towards the new greenhouse gas plan for Ottawa not only dealing with what the city can do with its own emissions, but how it can help people across the city to deal with what’s called community emissions which are a lot tougher to deal with, but a lot bigger and a lot more important than what the city will probably do with its own devices. Thanks.
CH: I’m not sure if the panel- is able to answer that. Does anybody want to take that, because I can if you don’t?
Renée Bellehumeur: I just- I don’t know about the municipal, but what I can say is if you’re right about at one point there will be a limit to adaptation. From the parks point of view, there’s two things is the park is still, even if people cannot ski for as long, they can still come in the park and enjoy nature so we will see I think more of that or people will switch from skiing to hiking and I think it just reinforces the importance of green spaces like the park and the greenbelt and you know the global fighting against warming so…
CH: Certainly there’s always- there is a plan that the city is working on, the mayor committed to a year ago and these questions of what can we all do, we can tell our city councillor that we think it’s important and generate political will. I’d prefer if we can to have our questions more oriented to our skiing topics. So why don’t we have the next one.
Audience Member 2: Hi, I’m Tom Harris, with the International Climate Science Coalition. I’ve been a skier for about 55 years so I would like hear about what the panel thinks about this circumstance. As demonstrated by books like this, The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, there are literally thousands of scientists who do not think that we’re headed for dangerous warming, so I offered to Ecology Ottawa to bring one of these scientists in, for free. Asked him about a week ago, and they turned that down. So what I’d like to know from the panel is what you think of excluding scientists who disagree with political correctness from appearing on the panel.
Audience Member 3: Just ignore the question.
Audience Member 2: You can take my microphone, and answer the questions for me if you’d like.
Audience Member 4: Who do you work for, like it’s High Park for a fossil fuel company.
Audience: Can’t hear.
Audience Member 5: They couldn’t hear you, do you want to stand up…
Audience Member 4: I just think you have to divulge your- where you are coming from. Mr. Harris has been paid by the fossil fuel industry for decades.
CH: Do we have anyone on the panel who’d like to engage the question?
Audience Member 2: Actually, that’s not true, we’re not paid by oil or any of those groups and these scientists are published in peer reviewed journals by thousands of scientists for universities.
CH: Ok, let’s have the panel answer the questions.
Stephan Gruber: Well, I would like to go and answer to one part of the question because I was not aware of the fact that scientists are being excluded here, and I wasn’t aware of the fact that right here we are discussing whether or whether not there is global climate change happening.
That may be a discussion that we should have somewhere else if you feel that needs to be addressed, but for as far as I’m concerned, I am relying on, in my area of expertise, for my researches, my area of expertise is certainly not the entire body of climate research, for that I rely on the scientific community and the review procedures there and I feel quite confident to trust in what the (IP CC) does and I am very happy to look at any other evidence that other scientists present because if we like or don’t like their outcomes, presenting evidence is a good thing in the scientific discourse, but so far I really haven’t seen a lot of things presented to me that convince me and I don’t think that this is the panel where we should get stuck in this endless this discussion.
CH: …a question that may be worth asking, certainly Sarah Renner talked about the challenges they had with hate mail and Patrick talked about people, and there are people who question whether this is a real problem,
Time = 60:00
Certainly today’s event, Mr. Harris did phone the museum and asked them if they could cancel the event. I know one of the panellists was approached by a prominent person who discouraged them from participating, so what is it do you think Stephan that motivates people who feel that- so strongly that they want to disagree with the established science.
SG: I don’t know. I mean this must be a personal question because it has nothing to do with, you know, my scientific background. I don’t know what motivates people to threaten others or to use tactics that don’t go to the actual arguments and I can’t speak to this, honestly. And I think we shouldn’t here and it’s…
CH: Well, let’s move to another question.
SG: …It doesn’t help the argument.
Audience Member 6: Sure, I have a question about the idea of Play It Cool and doing something ourselves and not being hypocrites. In terms of- if I understand Play it Cool was … for athletes but in terms of ski areas, would there be any viable economic argument to having green energy, having additional cost, how high will it go, are people willing to pay, for whether it’s the cross-country passes or the downhill passes to try to minimize their personal impact, again to take it personally to do it- something individually?
CH: Bob, I think that you’re the expert on what you think people will pay and why you think they might pay it.
Bob Sudermann: If I could charge more I certainly would. I try to creep my prices up every year. So I, you know- I think we’ll find some market people with room on that and I honestly don’t know where it is. But what I can tell you is we have our challenges with cost, hydro-electricity being the biggest one. Labour being another. Diesel fuel being another, to operate our groomers and all that kind of stuff. So I’m not sure what the answer is, but… the customer is always right.
CH: Next question. Alright, does anyone else want to deal with that?
Audience Member 7: Hi, my name is Holly. I am a racer for FC Ottawa and Carleton Nordic Varsity Ski team. I’m here with some other skiers as well. This question is related to waxing and I guess conditions for ski racing, so generally directed I guess towards Dirk… if you can. I am wondering the use of high floral and low floral waxes on the skis as well as certain fertilizers to address snow issues, particularly when it gets warmer. Do those have any broader scale implications on climate change and what would be changed in regards to waxing and course prep in order to deal with that climate situation?
Time = 1:03:36
Dirk Van Wijk: Right up my alley apparently. I would think that would be a fairly minor part of climate change, not that I know much about climate change, but a little bit of floral on skis isn’t going to change a lot. Adding fertilizer and salt, on the other hand, to race courses which happens more and more every year, especially in alpine skiing, on a far more- far larger scale than we do in Nordic skiing, probably has larger implications to the environment.
Audience Member 8: Hi, I’ll just make this quick. I just have a few comments concerning this evening. As a visitor of the GatineauPark spanning almost fifty years, yes I’m that old. I’d like to share with you a few things. We are here as a community. We all have a vital responsibility to our environment in whatever role we play. In the early days of cross-country skiing we parked in CampFortune parking lot even though we weren’t supposed to. We hit the trails and we went past Alexander Lodge, up to Huron Lodge and we cooked breakfast. That’s almost fifty years ago- almost forty-five years ago.
We cooked breakfast. The NCC at the time provided a sink and cooking equipment. We put our knapsacks in a cabin, left it open and we went skiing. That privilege was taken away because the public could no longer look after that privilege. Now my friends and neighbours we are under a lot deeper understanding I hope of what our responsibilities are to our environment to our future generations to preserve our environment as much as we can.
CH: Do you have a question?
Audience Member 8: There’s too much here. We need to look at our lifestyle and our diet to have a much greener environment. How are we going to do that? That’s my main question.
Time = 1:06:00
CH: How are we going to do that? (Inviting panel to answer)
RB: That’s a pretty broad question, but I think that if you look at the park, just the fact that we have a park that we are collectively trying to keep healthy one of the things that we… there are more people than there were in this region about 50 years ago. There’s more pressure on the park, so if every one of us when we go to the park we try to stay on trail, we leave no trace. That’s already a good start when we come to the park to keep this park healthy which is a sort of poumon vert for the region. The other thing we are looking at is more active transportation into the park. Getting better connections so you can get to the park in the summer. Those are the kinds of things we try to do on a long term and on an everyday basis. Bring your children to nature so you can get them into those programs that we have to learn about the environment. These are powerful tools for the next generation too. (Applause)
Time = 1:07:22
Audience Member 9: My question is for Bob Sudermann; Bob would you ever consider, I know you have put in the aerial park to have something else during summer, would you ever consider putting in rubber mats like they have in Scotland to have skiing if you run out of snow?
BS: I’ve looked into that. I’ve always thought about what it would be like to fall on it wearing shorts. It wouldn’t be that much fun. I think it’s something to look at as a unique summer activity, but as a replacement to snow in the winter time, if we were ever to get to that kind of extreme I would exit out of the ski business long before that I can assure you. That is an interesting concept just to increase summer business and more traffic into the GatineauPark.
As for the woman down here and her comment about not being able to park at CampFortune, a lot of cross country skiers do start from CampFortune, but they are down-hillers who typically put kids in lessons. Or get there early in the morning to catch the grooming in the morning, and when it gets busy they go cross country skiing. You are more than welcome to do that, come on out. Ski in the morning; buy a lift ticket and then going skiing
Audience Member 10: I was very interested in the beginning of your talk Charles. Some estimates of the temperature here in 2050 being 8 degrees warmer than it is now. Can you give me a reference for that?
Time = 1:09:00
CH: Yeah. This is a report that was done by the University of Waterloo for the National Capitol Commission. They gave a range of temperatures that they expected that were possible at various points in the future. Eight and a half degrees was the upper end of the spectrum that they were expecting in the 2050’s. The lower end range was 2 degrees Celsius and by some accounting we already have 2 degrees C. They also talked about into the 2080’s having as much as 12.5 degrees C as the high. I can’t remember what the low scale was.
Audience Member 10: If you go by the world climbing temperature global temperature I think the worst estimate is about 3 degrees.
CH: I think, Stephan, it’s not going to be uniform around the globe.
SG: If you take a global average temperature, whatever that temperature is then you have land areas and you have sea areas. Areas around the sea will warm less, because you have convection. So that makes, if you have an average of about 1 degree, you always tend to have more on land. Wherever you have snow, in high mountains or arctic areas you tend to have an even higher increase. So as a rule of thumb, when you are on land it is more than the average and when its on a colder part of the land it is usually even more, and then superimposed on that there is some regional variability.
Time = 1:10:50
Audience Member 11:
I noticed that Dr Gruber and also Sara spoke very eloquently, quite pointedly actually about the ways in which our connection to winter is cultural but psychological and emotional as well. Sara referred to the fact that winter is inherently Canadian, it is wonderful to play in it. Although winter is sometimes hard, we take great joy in it. Our joy is reflected in the “We are Winter Campaign” that the Canadian Olympic committee has been circulating to celebrate our athletes. So I guess my question is although winter is truly inherently Canadian although probably not as much as it is inherently German although we like to think of ourselves as a winter people, there is a disconnect. While we celebrate winter our affection for winter isn’t being translated into evident public desire to initiate the public will to have our public officials act on our love for winter. So I guess my question to the panel would be how you might recommend that we as a community are able to begin to use the story we tell ourselves, that we are people of winter to galvanize the necessary political will to begin aggressive mitigation that we all need to see both on a national level and on a global one.
So, “we are winter” how do we begin to translate that into really caring for winter.
Time = 1:12:42
CH: I think to some degree this is part of what we are doing tonight, celebrating winter and allowing that to motivate us to be here tonight and perhaps do other things as well. Does anyone else want to comment on that?
SG: Yes, I think the pure fact that a lot of this has to do with ice. Ice melts at zero degrees. It doesn’t melt at plus 30 or plus 40, so a lot of things we see in nature that have to do with ice are very sensitive. Also what we see a lot of times things that have to do with minimum temperature react very sensitively. That’s a point that galvanizes. That’s a point where you can show things a point where you can gather momentum and I think this is exactly what Ecology Ottawa did with this. It is a visible indicator that has a lot of emotions attached to it. It’s a good way to communicate.
Time = 1:13:39
Audience Member 12:
My name is Louis Helwig; I used to be on the national ski team. I’m a bit older than Sara and a bit younger than Dirk. I am out in the park about 4 or 5 times a week. What I do now is make my living as an artist. A big part of what I do is aerial photography, and one of my big projects right now is on the Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands. I am working on a book right now using my art, my photography, and I am juxtaposing that with contributions from people across the political spectrum around this issue. The spectrum runs from Bill McKibben as a contributor to Ezra Lavant as a contributor. I think that one of the issues affecting Sara …talking about the intimidation she or Thomas face when they took a public stand I think there is a real elephant in the room in terms of the efforts that are made in some respects on both sides to try to maintain a polar position.
I think one of the ways we might be able to address that in fact, and I admire the effort here as well,
For us to actually begin to sort of try to suss out the other end, form some common ground, imagine where the other is coming from…
CH: Can you turn this into a question?
LH: Yes I could …an example of that…a question I have around identifying, around making known… I think we’ve got to do a lot better job to more broadly reach out across communities in the country. An example right now of contradiction is Graeme Killick who is going to Sochi is performing as a cross country skier. I’m wondering what we can do, people who are concerned for the environment to actually reach out across this divide, so we can identify with each other and relate to each other, so that we understand the impact that this has on our culture.
Time = 1:16:06
CH: So the question is how we can reach across that broad spectrum that you suggested McKibbin to Lavant
SG: Well, I’m not sure if I understood your angle correctly, but what you’re asking is how we can reach out to people who think well I don’t quiet identify with all this talk about global change. Is this what you meant? Because it is something I do care about.
LH: Yes, the message isn’t getting out there. Or there is resistance to it and there is polarity that goes with it, and a lot of that exists as a manufactured polarity. I think people on both sides have worked to maintain that for different reasons and I think as we are doing quite well here we need to reach across this in a cultural way, as we are around snow and skiing.
SG: So, a story I told Charles before is that when I started teaching this course to the Swiss Ski and Snowboard instructors who get their federal certification after about one week they get their certification for tourism and all kinds of things. So I had a course called “Climate, Glaciers, Permafrost” Talking to people about climate change and snow, and the message I gave was basically “look, your customers will go with you through the mountains, and they will see that the skiing conditions have changed over the course of a decade. They will see that the glaciers they ski on are getting smaller, so those customers, if you believe in global change or not if you believe that it is different tomorrow they will think it is a qualification that adds value to you as a skiing guide if you can explain something about it.”
The other way I sometimes approach it is I don’t like to point fingers at people to say your car is too big; you are using too much fuel in all of this, because I also own a car. While we only have one in the family but well every one of us probably has a car and uses fossil fuel, and quite honestly if you were to count the amount of calories my work produces, I am a researcher at a university. I’m the most carbon intensive thing society can have. I’m not planting potatoes with my forest or growing apples, no, I’m thinking really hard. A society has to be very evolved and rely on a lot of technology and energy to have that much surplus of energy so that I can just sit there and think with what other people produce for me.
I think we all have to acknowledge that our ways of life rely on energy and that it is not black and white. Also even if someone says, I want to keep on driving my car, I don’t want to compromise while still looking into the eyes of things that in all likelihood we are developing that way. It will get warmer, winters will get shorter. For some skiers it doesn’t matter but for the majority of them it matters. Even if people keep their big cars, it helps to make better decisions to make decisions more sustainably. I think there are a lot of messages here that we can use to reach out to people to not build this divide. For me the divide really isn’t there, we have to keep thinking, what are good decisions.
Time = 1:19:40
RB: If I can just add to that, [something we can do when] we can all leave this room
We did a survey in the park. When you come to the park, you are coming alone or with one or two or three. In the winter season that is where we see the most people coming by themselves, which sort of is consuming a lot of energy plus it doesn’t really make sense safety wise. So bring a friend when you come to the park, don’t come alone, come in a group in a car and all these are the types of stuff we can all do collectively.
CH: So now it is almost 10 minutes before nine and yes we will have one or two final questions, we did start a little late so we are getting ready to wrap up, so why don’t we have maybe two more questions.
Time = 1:20:34
Audience Member 13:
Thank-you very much for your indulgence. Three of you are responsible for large amounts of real estate. Have you ever thought of putting solar panels on that real estate to help out with your economics?
RB: We do have solar panels in the park on the day shelters so that’s a start. Brown (LakeCabin), which is an overnight stay we converted last year from electrical to solar.
CH: There is one question over there by the exit sign, and then we will take one more and then we will call it a day.
Audience Member 14
My question has to do with future business models, especially concerning grooming and producing of snow, under the current plan you will have to use more and more resources. What are you doing to make it more ecological and safer for the environment in the near future? As your customers what can we do to help you along the way?
BS: Making snow has virtually no impact on the environment whatsoever, we pull water out of the creeks or lakes at the base of the mountain in the spring it melts and goes back in there, so for me I guess it’s just trying to make snow more efficiently and use less electricity. But that’s more about saving money on my hydro than anything else. That power’s being generated 24/7 every second of our lives through hydro projects in the GatineauRiver and up north. So as far as me making snow, it has no impact. (82:33)
CH: Can we have one last question?
DVW: I just want to jump in on that last question; I disagree a little with the idea that making snow doesn’t have an impact on our environment. I think it does because it does require a lot of electricity however we are making that electricity. The grooming thing, when I first started working on the Olympics I was totally shocked at how much grooming was done unnecessarily and I thought, this is totally not a sustainable model.
Sure enough after the Olympics… in Vancouver and Callaghan Nordic centre basically scaled way down to one or two people, one or two machines, grooming when absolutely necessary so it’s stripping economics obviously, but it’s also reality and …trying to do their part for the environment.
We do that at Nakkertok as well, we are very sensitive to how much grooming we have to do, what machines we do use to try and minimize. It is an economical thing, but always in the back of our mind it is environmental as well.
Time = 1:23:54
CH: One last question as promised, over here. Go ahead.
Audience Member 15;
Hi, I’m a racer and an avid cross country skier and a former graduate at CarletonUniversity in Environmental Studies. The problem I face is having access to the park; I like to ski as often as I can. I tried carpooling and shared rides, and I don’t actually own a car. Most of the access to trails is only by car. I’ve taken the 33 STO which has taken me an hour to get to the closest parking lot. So how can we make the park more accessible to those who want to ski as much as they can while the snow is still here?
Time = 1:24:36
RB: It is a very good point. We have looked at a transportation plan for the park, and that is one of the issues that has been raised. You are right there are a few accessible points …where you can take the bus. It is chicken and egg, STO says to us, you don’t have enough clients going that way to justify more buses so it is that challenge. We would like to publicize better that departure point so people use it more so that more buses will get run. That’s one thing. There’s also the buses that go close to what used to be Gamelin and you can put your skis on now, there is a trail. So we are working on it, but we’d like to have more access points. Chelsea has a new bus system coming in. The municipalities have negotiated another schedule for buses; hopefully some of those buses will be able to bring people from the city to points in the park.
Time = 1:25:30
CH: I want to thank all the volunteers who came out to help tonight. Thank-you to you for coming out tonight as an audience to hear from us. A special thank-you for our panellists.
Editorial Note – thanks also to the volunteers who transcribed this video!
This is part two of the transcript of the video of the panel discussion event The Future of Snow and Skiing in a Warming World. To return to part one, click here.