Small Alberta ski hill hopes winning grant can help it comeback following landslide

Last spring, just as the pandemic was settling in for a long haul, a ski facility of northwestern Alberta was hit by a devastating landslide. Now, Nitehawk is hoping a national competition for a ski grant could be just what it needs to kickstart the worked needed to overcome its greatest challenge. 

Nitehawk has been an important part of the Grande Prairie Region since its non-profit incorporation in November of 1960, and has grown from a quaint ski area to a year-round facility that provides outdoor recreation opportunities to thousands of youth, families, and individuals each year. 

“To have a year-round outdoor Facility like Nitehawk only 17 kilometres from the city is a great asset to the region,” says Johnathan Clarkson, general manager of the Grande Prairie adventure park. “Not only for the opportunities for recreation it provides, but also the over 120 part time seasonal and over 10 year-round employment positions it offers.”

The facility features skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing in the winter, as well as mountain Biking, RV camping, hiking trails, catering services and a pitch and putt golf course. 

On May 19, 2020 there was a large landslide that has affected our chairlift as well as a couple of our ski runs, located in the Wapiti River Valley,” Clarkson says. “This landslide will go down as one of the largest challenges our non-profit recreation facility has ever faced. The Landslide not only took out three towers of our chairlift, rendering it inoperable, but also left two-thirds of our skiable terrain inaccessible.”

Nitehawk has applied to a national competition called Mackenzie Top Peak Challenge, which is a call to action for ski communities across Canada to show their community spirit. Winners of the competition are awarded $50,000 to invest. 

“The Landslide and Ski Hill Remediation Project will be the largest project Nitehawk has been faced with during its 60 years of Operation,” Clarkson says. “Winning the Mackenzie Top Peak Challenge would contribute to the millions of dollars that will be required to return Nitehawk to its former operations.”

Nitehawk is facing stiff competition in the Top Peak Challenge from ski resorts that are larger and better-known including the likes of Big White, Canada Olympic Park and Panorama as well as other community ski hills such as Vancouver Island’s Mount Cain. 

Mackenzie Top Peak participating ski facilities accumulate points for their campaigns by sharing peak challenges over social media, and getting community participation in addition to getting votes at the Top Peak Challenge website. The competition finishes up March 15. 

To vote, head to the Top Peak Challenge website here


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