In spring of 2021, the BVCCSC conducted a survey of its members covering a number of aspects of the club. We received 273 responses, almost all (98%) from season pass holders. The response rate represents 30% of adult members.
The Board of Directors had 2 main goals in conducting the survey: to determine member satisfaction with the club and to inform our decisions going forward. Secondary goals were to get a snapshot of the club membership and compare responses in 2021 with those in 2011, the year of our last member survey.
We considered all comments. In the sections below, our responses to specific comments are given in italics.
We were reassured to see that 81% of respondents were sure that they would get a season’s pass again next year and 11% were likely to do so. Half of the people who indicated that they would not be renewing noted that they would rejoin if they weren’t leaving town.
Trails (dog trails covered in separate section):
Survey results indicate that the logging roads/Wetzin’kwa trails were the most heavily used followed by the dog trails, Pine Creek, Chris Dahlie trails and finally Down the Mountain/Valley View.
57% of respondents only or usually classic ski, 20% only or usually skate ski; the remaining 23% classic and skate about half the time each.
99% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the variety of trails at the Nordic Centre. There has been an increase in the percentage of skiers who are very satisfied or satisfied with the variety of trails since the 2011 survey.
There was significant feedback that the variety of trails is excellent and new trails should not come at the expense of maintaining existing trails. The priorities of the club are to finish upgrades to existing trails and to maintain tracksetting on existing trails. New trails will only be considered in the short and medium term if they don’t put pressure on PistenBully tracksetting. Short term priorities are trails that use only the Ginzu, as we have a strong volunteer contingent that could take on more.
A trail plan is being drafted. The trail plan will have a “Q and A” section, so that people understand why some ideas are not being pursued. Suggestions submitted in the survey include:
Adventure Trail for kids. In trail plan as high priority. Needs a volunteer champion.
Connect Down the Mountain to end of Valleyview. In trail plan as high priority.
Classic only trail. In trail plan as medium priority. Could be trackset by volunteers only. In discussions with SMBA to create multi-use trail.
High Trail for climate adaptation. Addressed in trail plan; low priority, long term option.
Advanced Trail. Addressed in trail plan; low priority; limited interest from membership.
Fatbike Trail. There would be significant issues to manage fatbikes given our purpose and insurance. The club will not pursue this.
Snowshoe Trail. The club will not pursue this as there are a number of free snowshoeing trails in the area. Adding snowshoe trails would take considerable effort and cost to get up and running and those are not available. It is unlikely that snowshoe trails would generate revenue given free options exist nearby.
Enhance viewpoints. Planned for Wilddog.
More signage including distance to parking lot. No action - signage is already complex and costly to maintain. Feedback about signage was overwhelmingly positive.
99+ % of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the facilities at the Nordic Centre.
Few comments focused on facilities:
More outhouses including at the lower parking lot. There is an outhouse at the lower parking lot so we need to improve the signage to that. We have no plans to build additional outhouses as they are complex to manage and maintain.
Benches along Pine Creek. We will put out a call for a volunteer to build a bench at the far end of Pine Creek as a first step.
Sauna. Not a priority for the club. Complex to manage and maintain.
Expansion of lit trails. Lit trails are very expensive and would displace other priorities.
Add cabin for day use. This will stay as a long-term option in trail plan. It is not a priority in short or medium term until other higher priority items are complete.
Improve congestion at lower parking lot. Plan to optimize parking for upcoming season. Minor machine work and changes to plowing, along with signage should allow parking for up to 40 vehicles.
Chariots for families with young children to ski with. The responder offered to raise funds for this. As responses to our survey were anonymous, we don’t know who it was who offered to work on this. We encourage them to contact us at email@example.com.
97% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with tracksetting. This reflects an increase in satisfaction since the 2011 survey.
Overall, the comments on tracksetting were extremely positive. There was a lot of support for our approach of using the Ginzu as an alternative groomer; some people commented that the result was not as good as with the PistenBully. Choosing the right tool is a mix of cost, people, and snow conditions. The grooming team is continuing to learn about what tool to use for best result. A general theme for the coming year will be “keep it up”. Given the complexity of managing tracksetting, and its cost, the club will make no major changes, but rather take a year to consolidate and make incremental improvements to the approach. One area for improvement will be grooming at junctions.
A few comments were received about people’s favourite trail not being set and grooming not being consistent. Ongoing expectation management with members is needed so that people understand the challenges of grooming and limits to what grooming can do, especially after a large snowfall or when temperatures are near 0. Groomers are committed to continued learning how to improve grooming where its feasible.
Specific suggestions included:
Improve grooming reporting. We are adopting the Nordic Pulse system which should help with this a lot without creating much extra work for groomers.
Real-time reporting of grooming progress. This isn’t feasible without a satellite communication. Also, we want the tracks to set up a bit before skiing on them so a bit of a delay is desirable. Nordic Pulse will upload updates as the groomers come through the staging area instead of just at the end of a grooming session.
New equipment for grooming in difficult conditions. Low priority - there is no magic tool for grooming in wet snow. Groomers are experimenting with use of a simple drag for packing new snow with small machines. If funds allow, a renovator for the PistenBully would be useful for icy conditions.
PistenBully – many comments on the need for backup, suggestions for 2nd machine, comments on reliability. Discussions are ongoing. We plan to begin to build reserve funds to allow risk mitigation and will revisit the PB strategy in the upcoming year.
More paid groomers instead of volunteers. Volunteers are huge contributors to our grooming strategy. They are especially valuable for early season trail preparation, backup support when the PB has downtime and supplemental support when conditions require small machines. We will continue to improve how we use a combination of paid and volunteer groomers.
96% of respondents felt that the season pass fee was just right (83%) or too low (13%). For those who would like to contribute more to the operations of the Nordic Centre, we have set up ways to donate either at the time of registration via Zone 4 or anytime using the link on our website: [url=https:///onlineforms/Cross-CountrySkidefondCanada/club-donation.html.  ]https:///onlineforms/Cross-CountrySkidefondCanada/club-donation.html.  [/url];
74% of respondents found our day pass fee just right (70%) or too low (4%); 26% felt that the day pass fee was too high. In 2018, we raised the day pass fee from $10 to $15 after much discussion and with authorization from Recreation Sites and Trails BC. The main drivers of the fee increase were higher fuel, machine and other costs incurred by the club and the desire to have these costs covered by day pass skiers as well as season pass holders. Our day pass fee is in line with that charged by other similar clubs in the province.
Fees will always be a sensitive issue for at least some skiers. In response to the survey question about what would make it more likely for the respondent to get season’s pass next year, cost was mentioned by a number of people: price staying the same, price dropping and day rate going up.
Comments on the club’s fee structure included:
Request for punch passes or week-long passes for times other than Christmas. This would be a challenge to implement and manage. A number of other clubs in the province have ceased offering punch passes for this reason.
On-line day passes. We are looking into this option.
Senior’s pass. We are not considering a special senior rate for several reasons. If we lower the fees for seniors then we would have to raise them for the rest of the skiers. Our objective is to keep fees reasonable for everyone.
Special rates for those who volunteer lots or higher fees for those who don’t volunteer. We are not considering special volunteer rates. If we offered discounts to the approximately 1/3 of members who volunteer, then we would have to raise the fees for the remainder of our skiers. Many volunteers have indicated that they volunteer in order to help the club provide a high quality of experience for themselves and others.
In addition, there were a few comments about people who abuse the honour system and ski without getting a day pass. We discuss this frequently and have yet to come up with a cost-effective solution; we are open to ideas. One commentor suggested community education on the cost of running the Nordic Centre.
Communications (also see Tracksetting section):
92% of respondents felt that the frequency and volume of communications from the BVCCSC was the right amount. The majority of people prefer email (47%) or the website (31%) as the means of keeping in touch; Facebook and Instagram were the preferred method of 15% and 7%, respectively.
There were comments on various aspects of communications scattered throughout the survey. Of note:
• Better communicate club stances on major topics like dogs, grooming, finances, etc. at beginning of each season and in a prominent place on the website. Explain why members have to contribute to Cross Country BC and Nordiq Canada. Improvements to communications and website are ongoing and depend, to some degree, on people volunteering to do the work.
Events and Programs:
25% of respondents participated in the 2021 virtual events; 20% participated in races; 24% participated in non-virtual events (presumably in past years) such as Tour de Soup; 14% attended Masters classes; 6% joined Athlete Development programs and 5% joined Jackrabbits or Bunnies. We recognise that the numbers would likely have been different if class sizes had not been restricted due to COVID.
The results for our question about plans to participate in events and programs in the upcoming ski season were quite similar to those noted above.
We received many comments about Events including those listed below. There were also a lot of requests for more fun events. The limits to our ability to offer events are twofold:
1) Each event needs a champion – someone who will plan and oversee the event; and
2) Events require volunteers
If you have an idea for an event (or see one on the list below that you are interested in) and want to discuss it further, we encourage you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the idea along with some indication as to how it would run. This is how popular events such as the Tour de Soup began.
Support for continued virtual events even after COVID restrictions are lifted. The popularity of these events makes it likely that they will continue after COVID.
Support for specific events: the Holiday Hustle, strava events, treasure hunt.
More fun events, e.g. poker ski, beer ski, wine tour ski. Need a champion and volunteers
More informal races. Need a champion and volunteers
Social gathering for new members so that they can meet others and feel welcome. Need a champion and volunteers
Discovery Ski Day to introduce skiers to Dahlie trail network. A version of this idea was incorporated into past Welcome Days.
Canteen in lodge on weekends for people to socialize; hot chocolate vending machine also proposed.
Outreach to increase diversity. Need a champion and volunteers
Sprint nights. Need a champion and volunteers
Dinner fundraiser. Need a champion and volunteers
Waxing clinics. Need a champion and volunteers
We also received comments about Programs including:
Many requests for more adult lessons (including for new skiers) and adult ski development. We are offering the latter this year with our new head coach and, as the maximum enrollment was reached quickly, we will consider expanding the program in future years. Our ability to offer the former is dependent on volunteers.
Non-competitive programs for teens. Needs a champion and volunteers.
Ability of older kids to enter youth programs. Older kids are welcome to inquire about entering youth programs - some skill is required.
Request for more details on classes and programs – what level fitness required and other conditions. Older kids are welcome to inquire about entering youth programs - some skill is required.
Program for para-athletes. Needs a champion and volunteers.
Capacity (volunteers, head coach, general manager):
36.5% of respondents volunteer with the club; 9% said that they didn’t volunteer but were interested in doing so. 54.5% don’t volunteer.
We did not receive many comments about volunteering that might help us understand why more than half of our members aren’t volunteering. The need for better volunteer recognition was mentioned with suggestions like photos of volunteers in action and mentions in the newsletter. We will work on improving volunteer recognition. However, the board has chosen not to offer volunteers reduced fees as was also suggested. If we offered discounts to the approximately 1/3 of members who volunteer, then we would have to raise the fees for the remainder of our skiers.
We are taking steps to try to connect better with those people who didn’t volunteer last year, but expressed an interest in helping out. We have re-instated the volunteer checklist on the registration form and will be more diligent about connecting with those who offer to help than we were in the past.
A few comments specifically mentioned what type of volunteer work the respondent would be keen on doing, however, as the survey was anonymous, we can’t reach out to those individuals. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and your request will be directed to the appropriate person.
We received comments about the need to hire a general manager so that the volunteers are not so burdened. We have done that and our new general manager started work November 1, 2021.
Similarly, we received comments about the desirability of hiring a head coach to support the volunteer coaches and relieve some of the burdens from volunteers. We have done that and our new head coach started this summer.
Dog Trail Management:
59% of respondents never or rarely ski with a dog; 31% ski only or often with a dog.
We received a huge variety of comments about the dog trails and the club dog policy. We considered every suggestion and criticism unless it was exceptionally rude.
Overall, there was more support for the club approach to dog management than there was criticism. Dog use is a positive and growing part of our overall membership, but is still a minority. We will maintain the core approach to the dog trails, with specific targeted improvements for the upcoming ski season. The addition of a dog trail coordinator has already helped alleviate problems and allows for further improvements in communications and trail management.
Some comments concerned last year’s mid-season change in the leash policy. We recognise that changing course mid-season is not the preferred way to do things. However, we were faced with an unprecedented number of complaints involving dogs early in the season and felt that we had to react. We added specific mention of, and a link to, our dog policy on the registration page this year so that every person who buys a season’s pass should know what the rules are about skiing with dogs.
Additional comments included:
Request for new dog trails – Our trail plan proposes two new dog trails, subject to engagement with the Wet’suwet’en, consultation and approval by Recreation Sites and Trails. The plan proposes adding Swamp Dog Trail as a 1.5 km trail on the grassy swamp in the middle of Pooch Paradise. It would have little cost or impact and could be established in the near future, and would increase the dog trail network to a total of 13 km. The trail plan also proposes a major new trail tentatively named Canis loopis, subject to funding, project champion and grooming capacity. Adding Swamp Dog and Canis loopis would result in a total of 18-20 km of dog trails.
Open up all of Pine Creek to dogs – comments both for and against; there were also some comments requesting removing dogs from the Pine Creek 2.5 (Hound Heaven). This will not be pursued for several reasons. Positive response from dog owners would be accompanied by negative response from other skiers – survey results indicate that contrary to comments by dog owners that Pine Creek trails are “under utilized”, they remain popular for skiers without dogs. Furthermore, “spreading out dogs” would increase pressure on PistenBully grooming capacity which is at its maximum. The preferred strategy is to add Swamp Dog and Canis loopis which will be the equivalent of opening all of Pine Creek to dogs
Leash Policy requiring dogs to be on leashes in the lower parking lot and from the parking lot through the tunnel – comments both for and against with more support for; there were also some comments requesting leashes be required up to junction with dog trails. The leash policy will remain in place with continued efforts to communicate rationale.
Second tunnel crossing or allow crossing of Hudson Bay Mt. road. A second tunnel would be prohibitively expensive. The club does not support crossing the road instead of the tunnel. Dog owners who use the old road crossing do so at their own risk.
Dog trail parking – some requests for a second parking lot on the other side of HBM Rd. and one request for dogs to be allowed on the trail connecting the upper and lower parking lot. We are not pursuing the idea of a second parking lot due to the expense and effort that would be involved; plowing capacity is already at its maximum. Instead, we will optimize parking in the lower parking lot in the upcoming season. We are not planning to allow dogs on the trail connecting upper and lower parking lot at this time. We don’t want to export existing dog behaviour and feces problems to the upper parking lot. In the longer term, this idea can be revisited.
Post to put dog on leash while putting on skis. Under consideration.
Dog messes. Many comments mainly in favour of the scoops and requesting better management of dog feces by owners. We will continue with strategies from last year.
Dog trail fee. Comments were received in favour of a specific fee for dog trails and other comments were received indicating that some dog owners feel that they don’t get value for the money that they pay. We will not be instituting a dog pass at this time. We will continue to educate dog owners on the extra cost that their use already creates. Also, will investigate an option for a targeted “dog trail” donation.