The Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club is gearing up for the season, and big changes to its facilities.
The club has been hard at work for years on planning upgrades to the Bull Mountain facilities. Strategic planning and dedicated grant writing and partnerships spearheaded by Robin Dawes have come to fruition.
The biggest change coming in the near future will be the construction of a two-story wheel-chair accessible day lodge, with 1,200 square feet per floor, the lower floor being a walk-out basement to house their rentals for easy access.
The upper floor will provide a south-facing view of the stadium area where events and races are focused.
The new lodge site has already been cleared, and volunteers have been putting in a lot of work, helped out by a fire fighting crew at the end of their contract. The crew helped to burn some of the piles from clearing the site and felled danger trees.
Another generous volunteer who helped out with machine work and his own time as the operator was Trevor Tugnum.
Robin Dawes, chair of the club, said Tugnum has been “very supportive of the work we do and shows up when we need him.”
Dawes was on hand for a ski swap and registration event the club held at the Anglican Church on Nov. 20 and had put together a slideshow highlighting some of the extensive work the group had been doing to prepare the site and show off building design plans.
The energy-efficient building design was put out to tender, and the group is hoping to finalize a contract with a builder in the coming days.
The building funding is being made possible thanks to a proposal put forward that will build a cross-country ski facility corridor, tieing the Bull Mountain facility into neighbouring facilities in 100 Mile House and Quesnel, which both have great trails systems which include warm day lodge facilities.
The heated shelter will be a big advantage, said Dawes, making the trails more attractive to families as well as travelers.
The group has already done so much to support cross country skiing in the community.
The grooming has been improving, and now will be further improved for users with an app, sponsored by WL Physiotherapy. The app, already in use at many facilities, will allow for real-time updated grooming reports, automatically uploaded to the club’s site.
Dawes herself spearheaded a ski school program to teach cross-country skiing in schools and the group has a fleet of rentals, which continues to expand, with the addition of skate skis and snowshoes.
Sponsorships and grants from Alta Gas and the Red Cross have made this possible, and the group offers programs so successful, their biggest limitation is coaching capacity.
Dawes said they are hoping to organize a training session to get more coaches certified so they can try and meet the demand for the program.
The group is still expanding other programs, despite their need for more volunteers, with a number of new offerings like a Ladies Night, Masters ski sessions, and Men’s Night.
Check the online calendar for programs and information.
The group is also running its annual membership drive and letting potential members know the prices will be going up in January, so people should sign up early to avoid the increase.
The club will be increasing rates in order to prepare for the increased costs of operating the day lodge once it is built.
Dawes said anyone interested in helping coach, groom or just maintain trails, can get in touch anytime.