Our ski club has existed for 61 years under various names and at various locations with our current site growing from 8.2 hectares in 1985 to 312 hectares in 2019. The latest expansion was a 167-hectare addition and we are now looking at options for new trail development. With historical roots in mind, we are considering addition of a 15 km trail system that is more rustic than the current CNSC trails, and more similar to those we skied on at Tabor Mountain.
Most of the first 27 years was spent skiing on vacant crown land in the vicinity of Tabor Mountain. In the early 1980’s the club began looking for options closer to town, and gravitated to Otway Road as a potential alternate site. Lights were strung in trees around the former ski jump on the Okanagan Helicopter site (now Timber West) and an old generator provided our first lighted skiing. The Otway Nordic Ski Centre opened for the 1984-85 season, boasting 1.5km of lit trails and 2-3 km of unlit trails, a two-story cabin, and a biathlon range – again on vacant crown land with no land tenure agreement to provide security for longevity.
The first official land tenure for the site was a 30-year master lease held by city beginning June 28, 1985, with a sub-lease to the Hickory Wing Ski Club encompassing a 20-acre (8.2 hectare) area that included the lodge and cross-country stadium area and the area south of the gravel pit. Over the past thirty-five years our club (initially Hickory Wing Ski Club and now Caledonia Nordic Ski Club) has incrementally expanded as needs and opportunities arose.
Navigating the administrative challenges has been a long and tedious process but there were some key milestones along the way, such as;
· Assuming the primary land tenure agreements with the province from the city. This ability to work directly with the province greatly improved our access to decision makers and decision timelines.
· Leading the initiative to obtain land access for, and to develop, the Greenway trail over a 24-kilometer 300 hectare corridor during the years 1994 to 1999.
The momentum of the 2015 Canada Winter Games enabled key milestones:
· Expansion of the lease area to include the new shooting range such that it would be eligible for funding grants, and
· Acquisition of 70 acres of private land where the race maze now sits. This was the result of a land exchange agreement where the land owner was provided land in exchange and the province then provided CNSC with a licence of occupation to develop ski trails. Our local MLA’s were instrumental in pushing this ahead at the cabinet level enabling hi-level competition trails to be built for the games, within 400 metres of the stadiums.
The momentum of the 2019 World Para Nordic Ski Championships also enabled milestones;
· Inclusion of the gravel pit and the pine flats area into the club licence of occupation. In the run up to the championships grants for snow making could not be applied to the Para Nordic course due to lack of secure tenure provisions. Again, out local MLA’s were instrumental in pushing this ahead at the cabinet level enabling secure tenure over these highly used trails, and eligibility for future grant opportunities.
And, having good neighbours also helps! CNSC has an annually renewed memorandum of understanding with Terus Construction Ltd and LaFarge
Canada Inc to use approximately 40 hectares of their undeveloped gravel pit private land for our popular dog friendly ski trails.
Over the past 6 years huge effort was put into developing world class competition facilities to support national and international events at our venue. We are now looking at opportunities to expand the scope of recreational skiing options for the membership. We have a conceptual plan for 15 km of new ski touring trails on scenic terrain on the back of Cranbrook Hill. Ski touring is most often thought of as backcountry skiing with no track but can be whatever the membership wants it to be. We envision a trail 5 to 6 meters wide similar to Fingers in width, to minimize snow interception and to enable use for a Loppet course.