British Columbia plots climate change for ski areas
WHISTLER, B.C. – The provincial government in British Columbia recently convened a meeting of ski resort operators to help create a Climate Change Action Plan.
As Whistler Blackcomb’s Arthur De Jong tells Pique Newsmagazine, his ski area has been thinking about climate change for a long time. The Peak 2 Peak gondola, a summer attraction as much as it is ski area infrastructure, is part of the strategy, as is new snowmaking equipment.
But if future ski areas are built, they may benefit from the insights in the plan, says David Lynn, chief executive of the Canada West Ski Areas Association.
He said the intent of the workshop was to emphasize the need to factor in the changing climate when making infrastructure decisions. “To the extent we do open new resorts, they (need to be) resorts designed to be viable from a climate change perspective 50 years from now as opposed to 50 years ago,” he said.
With many ski areas in British Columbia closing early this year because of lack of snow, the prospect of warmer winters is very much being considered, Lynn said.
“We’re trying to strike a balance of saying ‘yes, global warming is a real phenomenon, it’s strongly supported by science, we need to adapt to it,’ but at the same time, we don’t want to attribute a single data point—i.e. this season—to global warming, per se, because we know there’s an enormous role played by cyclical weather systems such as the El Niño system.”