The Alliance urges Town Council to reject Snow King Resort’s Special Event request to start a new for-profit snowmobile race in town this December.
Two weeks ago, Councilor Hailey Morton-Levinson made it clear that people like her in the tourism industry would benefit from the event – and that even so, she didn’t support it because of the negative impact on our community. We applauded her for this honest, transparent stance and hope that Council will agree.
This event is especially disconcerting given the context of a years-long discussion over how Snow King should involve the public in planning for the future of the resort.
Over the last few years, Snow King has ignored the community over and over to put in new development without much public review (the ropes course, roller coaster, “horse” trail, tree cutting for an extended Rafferty lift, and so on). And once again, Snow King managers are refusing to do things the right way.
In this instance, Snow King managers promised the race organizers and business owners that they’d hold this event, without first getting permission from the landowner – that’s us, the community. It’s like if I wanted to hold a birthday party at a park, I’d get the permit first, then tell my friends about it. If I never got the permit, but advertised anyway – too bad. No party. Should Snow King get special treatment just because they’re a big business? It’s not fair for Snow King managers to organize upset race fans to complain to the Town – when the problem is Snow King’s continual failure to respect our public process. This is a great opportunity for our elected representatives to hold Snow King management accountable to play by the same rules that everybody else has to.
Here’s why Town Council shouldn’t rush to approve a big new event:
Snow King management wants to significantly disrupt our community for five days with a two-day event, bringing 5,000 people, causing major traffic detours and parking diversion, noise into the evening, and overtime police work – which all have negative impacts on neighboring people and wildlife. The staff report made it clear that town staff have concerns about the impact of this event on our community.
We all know that many wild animals live on and all around Snow King – including deer, elk, moose, cougars, bears, and wolves. Areas on and around Snow King, including many important wildlife corridors like Cache Creek, are deemed critical winter habitat and closed seasonally to protect wildlife. So the presence of wildlife shouldn’t be up for debate.
What we don’t know is how much impact a big and noisy event like this would have on the wildlife. It’s easy for supporters to say it would have no impact – but there’s no reason to believe their claims. That’s why we’re asking the Town to first determine the impact before approving any large new event near important wildlife habitat.
We do know from the staff report that the event would have a negative impact on neighbors and the town – closing streets, taking over parking, making noise, requiring police overtime. That’s not because it’s a snowmobile race, it’s just because it’s a big event. The question isn’t whether to allow a snowmobile race, it’s whether to allow a big, new two-day event that will disrupt the community for five days.
Here’s what we’re asking Town Council to do:
We ask that Council require a real study and analysis of the impacts such a big new event would have on our neighbors, including our wildlife, before approving it. We need to stop approving developments and events piecemeal, without analysis of the impacts.
It’s disappointing that so many people who stand to benefit from it are encouraging the Town Council to allow an event that will harm the community. Even if Snow King management can get a large number of business owners who would benefit from the event to show up at Town Council meetings, that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for our community.
We hope the Town Council will not bow to Snow King’s corporate pressure, and will continue to stand up for our community.