Kathy Porter of Summit Environmental Consultants addresses the crowd of 112 participants at a recent strategic planning session.

Kathy Porter of Summit Environmental Consultants addresses the crowd of 112 participants at a recent strategic planning session.

Planning for the future of Larch Hills

The Larch Hills ski area is one of the region’s premier attractions, not only for cross-country skiing but for year-round recreation

The Larch Hills ski area is one of the region’s premier attractions, not only for cross-country skiing but for year-round recreation including snowshoeing, hiking, biking and horseback riding.

And in order to maintain and improve the area for the future, the Larch Hills Nordic Society is conducting a strategic planning process and attracted more than 100 people to a public input session. Next up will be a survey to provide opportunities for input on everything from trail planning to infrastructure, to chalet expansion, camping and even looking ahead to the potential impacts of climate change.

The final document will contain some short-, medium- and long-term plans for the next 20 years.

“We have close to 1,000 members and that’s not even counting the other user groups, we have a large annual budget and we felt it was time to review the way we do things and have an overall planning process for the area,” said Dave Wallensteen, a member of the steering committee for the strategic plan.

The society has hired Kathy Porter of Summit Environmental to oversee the process and help in the development of a series of plans and priorities for the area.

“We took some of the broad-based ideas and split into groups to hear people’s ideas, interests and suggestions,” said Wallensteen. “It gave everyone an opportunity for input.”

Wallensteen said one of the best things to come out of the process so far is to recognize and acknowledge all the good things about Larch Hills.

“We function with volunteers and many of us have been around for a long time, so we think about the issues or problems that need resolving, and we forget about what’s good and unique about us. It’s been a way to take a step back and appreciate what we have up there.”

The next phase of the plan will be the online survey, which should be available on the society’s website www.skilarchhills.ca in December.

Then the committee is hoping to have a draft plan available for review in late January.

 

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