Latest Update (April 2017)
Read our Blog post ‘Ski Confederation: successes, what we learned and next steps‘
UPDATE (January 2017)
The Ski Confederation Project was approved by the City of Calgary on December 16, 2016! Since then, dedicated volunteers have been working tirelessly to get operations in place to enhance the cross-country ski experience at Confederation. The main parking lot is now open during peak hours. Lights have been installed in the parking lot and on the driving range. Trails have been track-set at Canmore Park for additional public cross-country skiing. Portable toilets have been placed in parking lots of Confederation Park and Canmore Park.
All grooming, farming, harvesting and snow making equipment is on-site and a team of trained volunteers are in place, including a lead person for snow making. Snow making will occur as soon as possible over the course of three to four cold days.
A BIG thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers and donors who have helped us achieve our goal to improve Calgarians’ access to cross-country skiing within the City.
Project Information (Posted October 2016)
Learn more about the proposal to improve skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course. A partnership with the City of Calgary.
History of cross-country skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course
As a non-profit, Foothills Nordic Ski Club has volunteer groomed natural snow at Confederation Park Golf Course to the benefit of Calgarians for over 20 years. Foothills hopes to enhance skiing at Confederation for the upcoming season – providing Calgarians with free access to more consistent and reliable cross-country skiing throughout the winter.
Proposed improvements to skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course?*
Foothills Nordic expects to provide more consistent and consecutive ski days by:
- Operating small-scale snow-making.
- Applying innovative snow farming and harvesting techniques to better retain snow.
- Providing a lit instruction area during program times.
- Providing warming facilities (limited operating hours).
* All improvements are dependent on City approval and adherence to City bylaws.
Why snowmaking now at Confederation Park Golf Course?
In June of 2016 WinSport Canada announced the installation of a tube park through the cross-country ski trails at Canada Olympic Park for the coming season, leaving local skiers scrambling for ski trails in Calgary. Without improvements at Confederation, our city of over one million people and home to the 1988 Winter Olympics will not have a Nordic ski facility with consistent and reliable snow conditions that offers safe terrain for all abilities.
Snowmaking and other enhancements at Confederation will improve the viability of cross-country skiing in Calgary; a lifestyle sport that keeps people of all ages and abilities leading active, healthy, outdoor lifestyles.
What are the benefits to you and your community?
- FREE skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course!
- Cross-country ski trails within the city limits.
- More consecutive ski days and reliable conditions. Snowmaking a must given Calgary’s chinooks.
- More off-street parking available to skiers.
- Accessibility – cross-country skiing is for everyone – be you 3 or 93, able or disabled!
- Stay active – cross-country skiing is a great way to stay active in the winter.
- Increased opportunities to introduce children, youth and adults to cross-country skiing (community-supported ski days, Scouts, Ski at School, school groups).
- Year-round use of the golf course. City of Calgary Recreation has a mandate to increase year-round use of golf courses. Cross-country skiing and other winter uses of golf courses helps preserve the long term recreational use of these areas.
How are we working with the City of Calgary?
We are working closely with the City of Calgary; proposed improvements to cross-country skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course must go through all necessary approval processes with relevant City of Calgary departments and will abide by all City bylaws.
Having volunteer-groomed Confederation for over 20 years we know the golf course and have worked with the City’s Golf Course Operations to ensure that the course is not damaged and that the golf season is not delayed by snow remaining on the course late into the spring.
How are surrounding communities responding?
Overall, community response has been enthusiastic. We’ve actively engaged Community Association Boards in surrounding communities and are committed to transparently sharing our plans and mitigating residents’ real concerns.
Our Frequently Asked Questions address the most common questions we are hearing.
Here is what some local residents are saying:
- “Having a cross-country ski facility with sustainable snowmaking capacity within the City of Calgary gives me and my family, and all Calgarians, the opportunity practice our ski skills, have fun with friends and get outside for activity during our long winters. There are few other activities that give people of all ages the opportunity to have fun outside on snow, on a weekday, without a long commute, even when it gets dark in the early evening.“ – Triwood Resident
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What will be the impact on parking in surrounding neighbourhoods?
- Foothills Nordic Ski Club is working with the City to use the Confederation Park Golf Course parking lot.
- Foothills will also direct skiers to the City of Calgary Parks’ parking lot at Canmore Park (and provide a groomed trail from Canmore Park towards Confederation, snow permitting).
- Numbers and member travel behaviour indicate the parking lot can easily accommodate program-related parking with sufficient remaining space for the public to park and ski.
- Signage may be utilized to direct drivers to additional nearby parking. The implementation of Foothills’ proposal could result in less on-street parking in the surrounding communities.
- How much sound comes from snowmaking equipment? When will snowmaking occur?
- The snow making equipment used by Foothills Nordic Ski Club is small and portable – not what you may have seen at a downhill ski resort.
- The estimated combined sound level of the snowmaking equipment (pump, compressor, snow gun) is approximately 54 decibels at the nearest house (at 100 metres from the house). For comparison, this is about the same as a coffee percolator (55 dB) or an electric toothbrush (50-60 dB), or a home refrigerator (50 dB) or normal conversation (50-60 dB). At other times, the snowmaking equipment can be moved even further away from residences, further reducing sound levels. Equipment is also moved in 25 metre increments every 4 to 6 hours.
- Man-made snow is most effective as a base, and so the snowmaking does not occur all winter. A maximum of 170 hours is required to produce the snow required to cover a learning to ski area (on the driving range) and 4 km of trails with a 15 cm base of snow.
- With sufficient suitably cold days to make snow, the bulk of snowmaking would be complete by the end of December, though there may be brief periods of snowmaking in January and February if extended periods of warm temperatures occur.
- Will the lights be bright?
- Portable lights will be directed into the parking lot and an additional 150 m into the driving range. For reference, the entire driving range is approximately 250 m long.
- The lights would be operated at limited times, typically Monday through Thursday until about 8:30 pm.
- There are no plans to light up the entire golf course.
- Why is this happening so quickly?
Unfortunately, WinSport only announced their cross-country trail network reduction in June 2016. Since then, local clubs have been scrambling to find other ways to deliver programming to members – most of which is focused on teaching children and youth how to cross-country ski. It was only in September 2016 that we found out that there will be no cross-country terrain at Canada Olympic Park for the coming season. More planning time would have been beneficial, but we are working with the lead time we were given.
- What stage is this project at with the City?
Foothills Nordic Ski Club’s planned improvements for Confederation Park Golf Course have not received City approval although plans support the City’s mandate to increase year-round golf course use. Over the past few months, Foothills volunteers have been working with various City departments, responding to questions and concerns, many of which relate to community impacts. This has been an iterative process. In working towards receiving City approvals our flexible plan is continually adjusted, in part to minimize community impacts.Foothills is also proactively engaging with boards of surrounding community associations to share information and listen to potential concerns.
- Why did Foothills raise money for improvements prior to receiving the City’s final project approval?
Based on our long-standing relationship with the City, their mandate to increase year-round golf course use and the flexibility of Foothills Nordic’s plan, we felt reasonably confident that we would be able to develop a plan that met City and community needs. Foothills had to make the decision to start raising money ahead of all necessary approvals given the lead time required to purchase and deliver equipment needed to maintain improved cross-country trails at Confederation Park Golf Course. Had we had waited for all approvals before fundraising, there would have been insufficient time to raise funds, order and take delivery of equipment for this season – requiring local clubs to cancel programs and leaving citizens with fewer reliable and continuous ski days within the city.
- Is Confederation Park Golf Course the only location with groomed trails in Calgary?
- Foothills partners with the City and with Calgary Ski Club to provide groomed cross-country ski trails at various locations in Calgary: Confederation Park Golf Course, Maple Ridge Golf Course, Lakeview Golf Course Golf Course, Shaganappi Golf Course, South Glenmore Park and Bowness Park (tentative).
- While Foothills is looking at improving the cross-country facility at Confederation this year, grooming natural snow will still continue at the other golf courses (with sufficient volunteer resources).
- Given the closure of cross-country ski facilities at Canada Olympic Park, it’s reasonable to that assume all of these areas will experience more use this winter.
- How busy will the ski trails be?
All ski trails on the golf course are open to the public free of charge. Warming facilities and lighting would be available for free public use during normal operating hours. The scale of golf course ski terrain should more than accommodate for skiers without being busy or congested. Our experience with grooming cross-country trails at Confederation over the past twenty years shows us that the heaviest public use of the trails tends to be on the weekends.