Prince George's Caledonia Nordic Ski Club prepared to welcome the world's best para Nordic athletes

In 2013, 2018, Caledonia Nordic Ski Club received a $400,000 grant from Northern Development towards this $800,000 project. This has been a funding partnership of Northern Development, City of Prince George, and Province of British Columbia

2019 World Para Nordic Championships expected to generate $5.34M in local economic benefit

Snowmaking in front of the lodge. Photo credit: Mike Palangio (Caledonia Nordic Ski Club)

January 2019 – One of Canada’s largest Nordic clubs and B.C.’s only Nordic club with snowmaking abilities is set to welcome the world for the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. From February 15 – 24, the world’s best para Nordic athletes will be competing in biathlon and skiing events. Approximately 140 athletes from 21 countries will arrive in Prince George to demonstrate their athletic ability and to inspire spectators from around the globe.

“We’re really happy with how it all came together,” said Kevin Pettersen, chair of the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships’ Local Organizing Committee and past president of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. “We’re delighted that Northern Development could be a part of it as they’ve also been a part of our past successes.”

Caledonia Nordic Ski Club has been operating since 1957 and has been in the same location for more than 30 years. Preparing for the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships has provided the club with ample opportunity to utilize existing infrastructure and reason to add new amenities. Since 2013, the Trust has provided $400,000 for five unique projects at the facility.

The idea of hosting para Nordic competitions can be traced back to 2015 during the Canada Winter Games in Prince George. At that time, the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club was on the national stage and Len Apedaile, head of technical control and officiating with the International Paralympic Committee World Para Nordic Skiing Sport Technical Committee, observed that the facilities were second-to-none in Canada and prime for hosting para Nordic events. Glen then asked if the club would be interested in hosting para Nordic events in the future and the idea was planted.

In 2017, Caledonia Nordic Ski Club was prepared to welcome athletes from North America for the 2017 North American and Canadian Biathlon Championships. Just two weeks prior to the event, the competition had to be moved from Prince George to Canmore due to lack of snow. This was turning point and it was realized that if Caledonia Nordic Ski Club, and the city of Prince George, wanted to host large-scale Nordic events, they would need snow making capabilities.

Prince George had lost an estimated $1.5 million in economic impact from this event to Canmore as suggested by a Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM) analysis. This strengthened the case for creating a snowmaking system.

Left: Water pipeline installation for the snow gun. Centre: Snow gun. Right: Making snow. Photo credit: Kevin Pettersen

In their application for a quarter million-dollar grant to the Trust install a snowmaking system, the ski club stated that “the largest risk for growing our membership, delivering Nordic skiing programs, introducing thousands of school children to Nordic Skiing and hosting world level events is unpredictable snow.” The state-of-the-art snowmaking system produces quality snow and broad benefits for the community of Prince George.

Hosting the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Prince George is expected to generate $5.34 million in local economic benefit, as predicted by the STEAM analysis. A total of $6.36 million in economic benefit is expected to be felt in B.C.

The snowmaking system has positive impacts on the community as well. It is anticipated that with snowmaking abilities the club will be able to sustain a longer operating season by adding as much as one month of skiing on both ends of the ski season. Club statistics show that an early opening dramatically increases club membership, by as much of 500 members, more day users, more user groups (such as schools) and more equipment rentals. This translates into more revenue generation for the club and more residents investing in their health during the winter months. It is estimated that the longer ski season due to snowmaking abilities will provide $317,000 in operational revenue. Estimated annual expenses to make snow are just $8,500.

Inside the lodge, the club also completed some upgrades in 2018. A component of preparing to host the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships was to have a professional review of the facility. This evaluation prompted $131,000 in improvements to be completed, including the installation of power door openers, new and improved stairs, walkways, handrails and walkways. Access to washrooms was also improved and lighting was upgraded to increase access for athletes and spectators.

“The Para Nordic Championships are an amazing event,” Pettersen said. “As important as that is, we want people and businesses to start thinking about what they can do to increase accessibility, that’s a legacy we want to leave.”

Increasing accessibility to the lodge. Photo credit: Mike Palangio (Caledonia Nordic Ski Club)

Caledonia Nordic Ski Club operates a world-class facility at Otway Nordic Centre. This venue would not be possible without the foresight of an intuitive board of directors, countless hours of volunteer labour and wholehearted support from various organizations.

“It makes a huge difference when you have so many A-Grade partners who can see the big picture,” Pettersen shared. Northern Development, the City of Prince George, the Province of B.C., other funding organizations and private donors have all financially contributed towards numerous projects.

A variety of people and organizations have come together to ensure that Caledonia Nordic Ski Club can host a successful event in February. The benefits from these 10 days of competition will stimulate the local economy and provide numerous legacies for athletes and residents of Northern B.C.

Northern Development provided $250,000 in funding for the snowmaking system through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program. The accessibility upgrades to the lodge received $30,000 through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program.

Positive Economic Impacts

$6.36 million (estimated)

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