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Keppoch clarification

Keppoch Mountain during a family fun day.
Keppoch Mountain during a family fun day. - FILE

Letter to editor

A recent article describing another success at Keppoch (ski and snowboard terrain park) is an illustration of how thousands of hours of volunteer effort can transform an idea into reality.

Some say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the incorporation of a true philanthropic effort by the community that supports us.

The Positive Action for Keppoch (PAK) Society values honesty, trust and transparency. Our funders expect us to use strategic visioning and sound judgement as we steadily evolve.

Acquisition of a chairlift has been reported to the paper but has not been part of our strategic vision. This opinion was expressed by an enthusiastic volunteer but does not represent the opinion of the PAK Board of Directors.

A key element of our forward path has been the establishment of a framework around our constraints: the needs and wishes of the people we serve, harsh economic realities, and climate change.

Three overarching criteria have emerged that guide us; feasibility (what is functionally possible in the foreseeable future), viability (what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model) and, desirability (what makes sense to people and for people).

We have brought the outdoor experience to the community in an affordable model. Trail passes and daily user fees are modest and generally affordable, and they help us afford utilities, insurance, snow removal, trail maintenance and general operational costs.

Families are coming together at Keppoch as they did in the past. Outdoor recreation has become possible on a year-round basis, not just for six weeks of winter. We are attracting mothers and preschoolers through our support for the Hike It Baby program, seniors have discovered us and make day trips from nursing homes and our accessibility trail is a welcomed addition that creates a safe and enjoyable experience for many. People outside our region have discovered us and travel for the experience and for the first time in years, there will be construction of new homes in the area.

A modest terrain park has been put in place. It represents hundreds of conversations, thousands of hours of sweat and sleepless nights, meetings with the neighbours to build trust, sourcing wood for ramps and meeting with and contracting local contractors and trail developers. It also involved physical labour on my part, as well as that of our general manager Paul Basile and another director Andrew Bradshaw, and of course the effort and enthusiasm of Jason Mason.

None of our efforts could have occurred without public consultation, the efforts of our committed and experienced board of directors and the support of our donors. Our forward journey continues to rely on that model and we are excited to move forward with the planning for several engagement sessions that will not only look to the board to help set our vision for the next five years, but the public as well. I would encourage anyone interested in what’s happening at Keppoch to check out our Facebook page in the coming weeks for dates and times near you.

Our funders expect us to continue to use sound judgement as we evolve. Our project has passed the $1 million mark in acquiring assets. We operate in the black. We are risk averse and we respect the people who use the facility and support it.

If the stars align, dreams can become reality. For now we have our feet firmly planted on the ground. Make no mistake.

Dr. John Chiasson

President, PAK Board of Directors

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