For more than a century, the Edmonton Ski Club has helped Edmontonians hit the slopes in the heart of the city’s scenic river valley. In that time, the club has faced its fair share of uphill journeys — and not just those made easier by a tow rope.
After missing two ski seasons due to the challenges of aging infrastructure, it reopened in December 2019 with renewed energy and community support from both the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta. For Adam Luciuk, until recently the club’s general manager, the reopening was a rebirth of sorts; a chance for the aging organization to start anew.
“This was really an opportunity for the club to refocus a bit. It allowed us to work with the greater community to diversify our services and better meet what people want and need,” he said.
The key to the Ski Club’s continued success is collaboration and creativity. The organization’s board of directors used the closure period to rebuild and develop a strategic plan for the coming years. Since reopening, they’re taking an innovative approach to encourage year-round operations and greater financial sustainability. By collaborating with other local organizations and events, such as Flying Canoë Volant, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the Cloverdale Community League, the Club is making the river valley a year-round destination.
“We had a chance to look at what other parts of the community were doing and adjust our offerings. Now in the winter, we’re expanding our ski and snowboard programs, we’ve opened a tube park and snow school for all ages and skill levels,” said Luciuk. “In the summer, we’re operating a bike service and repair shop, along with an outdoor family-friendly patio. We’re in a good position to help people enjoy the river valley, year-round.”
The Club’s central location offers users easy access to recreation in the heart of the city. When the Valley Line LRT opens, the nearest stop will be a mere 400 metres from the hill, meaning that a day on the slopes — whether in winter or summer — will just be a short train ride away.
The Club’s new energy has earned recent votes of confidence from both the Government of Canada and the City of Edmonton, as both levels of government committed to support a project to build a modern lodge replacing the old facility. So the Club, founded in 1911, will look forward to new skiers – and maybe even another budding Olympian – carving the hills.
The Sage Seniors Association was one of the first organizations to work with SEF back in our earliest days.