It wasn’t the win the Larch Hills skiers were hoping for, but it was still a win.
On Monday evening, Oct. 21, a large group of Nordics cross-country skiers gathered in a classroom at the Okanagan College Salmon Arm campus to see if the Larch Hills Nordic Society’s trail lighting project had received enough public votes to win the grand prize of $250,000 in this year’s Kraft Heinz Project Play event. Instead, the grand prize went to Saugeen Shores, Ont. for the proposed Lamont Sports Park.
The Nordic Society was one of four contenders for project funding. Their project entry involved lighting approximately six kilometers of ski trail at Larch Hills, an idea that has been in the works since 2015. The project is estimated to cost approximately $500,000.
Though they didn’t win the top prize, the Nordic Society will receive $25,000 in Project Play funding along with the other runner-ups.
Randi Ostby, a member of the Larch Hills Trail Lighting Committee, said organizers were amazed by the effort put in during the Oct. 18-20 voting period by ski club members and Salmon Arm residents.
“We keep hearing about people who spent an amazing amount of time so we could win,” said Ostby. “Of course we’re disappointed, but we’re pleased to come away with $25,000 and just very grateful.”
A voting event was held throughout the weekend at the Salmon Arm campus. Friday night, from 6 p.m. to midnight, between 30 and 40 people a classroom to repeatedly vote for the Larch Hills project. On Saturday, at any given time between 9 a.m. and midnight, between 20 and 30 people showed up at the campus to submit votes.
“I met so many people who told me they spent several hours voting…” said Ostby. “People took our effort to heart and did everything they could to help us.”
Ostby said the $25,000 will be placed in a fund, and fundraising efforts will continue to reach the end goal of lighting Larch Hills.