2017 President’s Report & AGM Meeting Minutes
2017 President’s Report by Marlene Alt
More snow, more members, more skiers on the trails, more volunteers, bigger events, and a cozy cabin with roaring fireplace. That could sum up the year we’re just wrapping up. In our second full season at Wesley Clover Parks, we engaged in a coordinated flurry of efforts to deliver value to our members and to day skiers, and to prepare for the future.
Front and center was relocating our main base to the campground area (usually referred to by its address, 411 Corkstown) from down at the equestrian flats, or 401 Corkstown. The move proved an excellent decision, with the brand new cabin Wesley Clover Parks constructed as our clubhouse for the season, and the more sheltered and varied terrain at 411.
Wesley Clover Parks’ vision to bring many activities together in one spot is a key reason that Kanata Nordic is the resident ski club there. This is a great benefit to us but also means we sometimes need to share the trails. Such was the case early this season with the Gift of Lights installation. While together we tried to limit its impact it did mean having a single outlet from the cabin area for 4-5 weeks. For future Gift of Lights event we’re working with the Parks to find ways to maintain full trail connectivity.
The Parks has infrastructure improvements planned at the campground during our off-season, so it’s too early to know exactly what next winter’s home base will be. But my guess is we’ll be in the same cabin, or a similar one to be built, and possibly there’ll even be a winter water supply so the adjoining washroom building will actually be washrooms. Although they’ve been really useful as storage this winter.
In January we celebrated Ottawa 2017 and Canada’s 150th birthday with nearly 800 others, at Kanata Nordic’s second annual Snow Day. It was much expanded this year thanks to a Civic Events grant from the City of Ottawa. The event was conceived as a type of open house, intended primarily for non- members (even non-skiers), to showcase the beautiful property at Wesley Clover Parks, and the trail network we’re developing. It was a day with low barriers to entry: no trail use fees, free snowshoes, free skis, a free orienteering meet, skijoring demo, live entertainment, a food truck, and a snowshoe race between the Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor (whose ward we’re in) and our own Paralympian, Robbi Weldon. And beer samples from Muskoka Brewery. And prizes for the kids. It was a massive success – by all measures. As Kaleigh noted, there was a bigger line-up to borrow skis than to get free beer – where do you see that?!
Snow Day highlights what I see as one of our club’s unique contributions to the community – our easy access location means we can introduce a broader demographic to lifelong fitness and enjoyment of the outdoors in winter through the sport of xc skiing (which by the way is our mandate).
Many guests at Snow Day said ‘sign me up!’ but most programs were full by then. Indeed our membership grew a whopping 25% this year (Kam will give you specifics) but our program registration stayed about the same. Key to next year’s goals is to expand our program capacity.
Which leads to a couple of our plans and hopes for next season. Top of the list is a full-time paid coach, as a resource for the entire club. We’ve applied for a Capacity Building grant from MEC to help fund this for the first year. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation since the coach can expand our current programs, and introduce new lessons and activities that will make the position self-funding. But we need a leg-up to get this position in place.
We’re on the cusp of becoming the full-service cross country ski club we envisioned in our five-year plan. In the coming months we intend to review the plan, check if any vectors have changed, and make adjustments as needed. The possibilities are plentiful and inspiring — a children’s play park, a major ski competition, a new biathlon program, partnerships with large businesses in the area, rental ski equipment and maybe even a level railway crossing. But I’ve run out of time so you’ll just have to stay tuned to our website or we can talk afterwards.
In closing I’d like to thank the entire Executive from this past year, for their time, generosity, creativity and general good humour in the face of the occasional challenge or two. I’d also like to recognize the City of Ottawa, the NCC and Wesley Clover Parks, for their deep support, and our loyal Trailblazer sponsor, Fresh Air Experience. And if any of the other folks here have volunteered, and I definitely recognize some, thanks to you as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed the experience and you can be assured that you’ve made someone else’s experience possible through your contributions.