Riding Mountain National Park “sans” ski is fine by me

True to my Canadian heritage, I love winter.  As soon as the first snowfall hits, I look forward to the crystal white blanket that covers my neighbourhood, the rosy cheeks sported by all, and the opportunity to snowshoe, skate, sled and of course ski! Skiing is probably my most enjoyable winter hobby and every year I look forward to night skiing on local hills and my big annual ski trip. With all this being said, is it really necessary to promote a downhill ski resort in a national park?

I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Parks Canada is proposing amending the current Riding Mountain National Park Management Plan for Mount Agassiz to allow the re-development and re-opening of a downhill ski hill. And not just any downhill ski area… this one has been closed for over a decade. This is yet another example of the resurgence of this worrisome trend of inappropriate commercial development in our national parks.

Some are welcoming the decision because it will potentially bring back dollars into the park and the surrounding communities, and make use of the current decrepit abandoned facilities. Others, including myself, are questioning whether this re-development is really in the best interest of our parks, the animals that call it home, and its ecological integrity.

The term “re-development” seems a bit of a stretch to me. According to the feasibility study commissioned by Parks Canada, the park would require extensive infrastructure and re-building all without much promise of a financially viable outcome. A list of “to-do” items include new ski lifts, new guest services facilities, septic fields and holding tanks, new filtration systems and much more. The only thing that seems to be good is the parking lot. When I look at this list, it intuitively seems to go far beyond National Parks Policy, which only permits activities requiring a minimum of built facilities.

Riding Mountain National Park, as it is today, offers a variety of activities and opportunities for enjoyment. There is no need to put more stress on this region and the wildlife within it by re-opening a downhill ski resort.  The park is home to Clear Lake, a beautiful place to swim and bathe on the beach.  It is also known as an excellent park for birding. In the wintertime, enjoy skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and sleigh rides. Parks Canada even hosts great activities including GPS Adventures and Murder Mystery Winter Campfires. A quick visit to Parks Canada’s website reveals that the park already has plenty to offer with much less impact on its ecological integrity than rebuilding a downhill ski resort. Take a look!

For me, proceeding with this amendment means opening the door to other “exceptions” in our national parks. It means allowing further commercial developments in our parks and forgetting the true essence as to why we create national parks: to preserve, protect and restore special natural places for future generations.

Please write your letter today.

Pictures courtesy of Travel Manitoba via Creative Commons.


  • Riding Mountain National Park “avec” ski merci.
    A few people taking pictures of a few bison, is not very beneficial to anyone. There are lots of buffalo farms everywhere.
    Skiing in the area of Riding Mountain is a strong tradition.  It was removed to create another ski hill, by sucking up 6000 acres of agricultural land and moving 100 farmers off their lands to host cabins for those that like to take pictures of bison. Eating and food is not relevant when you have a patch of wild prairie grass.
    The removal of the Agassiz ski hill, has had a butterfly effect.  No hill, no schools within decent distance, no tourism, no economic advantage for the neighboring areas. The livelihoods of country folk is not relevant when you have birding, as birds can only be found in the whole North America, in the Agassiz Ski Hill Area.
    The continual closure of the Agassiz Ski Hill, by Riding Mountain National Park, shows how much it cares about its neighbors. The message is clear, not at all and the feeling is mutual. But who needs respectful community relationships when you live on your own planet.
    When you drive through Riding Mountain National Park, do you still see herds of elk or a herd of people chewing on fries after jumping out of a pool. Gotta preserve those fries for future generations, the ketchup can become extinct.
    So much to offer, unmaintained horse trails, Mountain bike trails with little people on wheels bouncing down shale slides, associate staff that feel that there should be a research center to minimize the gap between the locals and academics and to study the behaviors of beavers, because they are a world mystery.
    The above article is written in a manner which suggests that anyone that would love to see the ski re-open is not a supporter of preservation and conservation. It implies that those that do support the re-opening of the hill do not preserve or participate in activities which assure the development of future generations.
    Take a look at the east escarpment of Riding Mountain, and compare it to the west side of the park. The East has rejected Park intervention since its opening. It is beautiful.
    I live in the East Escarpment, and would fully endorse the re-opening of the Agassiz ski hill, and guarantee you that without your help, have managed to conserve and preserve despite external intervention.  The park as seen on google, is quite large and the ski hill, invisible. That is because the area is small, yet of great relevance to many. We will continue to advocate its re-opening and encourage CPAWS to support such.

    By nicole nixon on Apr/10/2012

    • I am very much fond of to climb up on the mountain. You have increases my curiosity through this post.

      By Cabin Rentals BC on Jun/25/2012