Dec 1, 2005 | Marmot, Winter 2005

Mountain Management Committed To Community Involvement

Running a growing ski resort is busy business. But that hasn’t stopped staff members at Mount Washington Alpine Resort from lending a hand with community service in a big way.

Peter Gibson, Resort President

“We’re quite involved,” says Resort President Peter Gibson. “When I took over five years ago … each manager had to get involved in other endeavours off the hill,” he said. The point behind this conscious task was to build bridges in the community.

“At the time there was very much an ‘us versus them’ mentality between the Comox Valley and Mount Washington. Many people in the Valley saw the mountain as an autonomous entity ‘up there’, with very little connection to ‘down here’,” Gibson explained.

Being the kind of person to lead by example, Gibson is involved with the Comox Valley Community Foundation, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. As Vice-President, Gibson has been in charge of raising the foundation’s public profile.

The Community Foundation started with a $180,000 donation, and now manages more than $2 million. The foundation provides matching grant money to community non-profit organizations for various projects.

But that’s not all. Gibson also sits on the Canada West Ski Areas Association, and will chair the B.C. division next spring. The association represents more than 30 resorts in the region. “It’s a great association because it represents all the resorts in Western Canada,” he said.

Sitting on this association means he is plugged into whatever is going on, especially in regards to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler.

Gibson recently accepted a position on the Marmot Recovery Foundation, a subject near and dear, considering there is a breeding program happening at a Marmot Recovery Centre at Mount Washington.

Jay Oddleifson, Director, Planning and Development

Oddleifson chairs the Comox Valley Folk Society, which operates Vancouver Island MusicFest. “You’re going to have to bury me before I leave that, because I love it,” says the eight-year MusicFest veteran. “We’re getting recognized as one of the main folk festivals in Western Canada.”

When he is not prowling the various outdoor stages during the popular folk festival, Oddleifson is an elected director with the Economic Development Society and a member of the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club. “It’s not an initiative from the mountain – I do MusicFest because I love it, I do Rotary number one for the fellowship and for service,” he says.

“And the Economic Development Society I do because I’m interested and concerned about how we do things in the Valley and I want to see the Valley to grow in a proper manner.”
Oddleifson is not the only one from his staff who volunteers with MusicFest; Bev Weber, Ticket Operations Supervisor, is also on the MusicFest board

Don Sharpe, Director, Business Services

Sharpe got involved in the community at first to improve relationships between Mount Washington and the Comox Valley business community. “But it’s been a blast,” he said.
Sharpe is President of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, having spent the past five years working his way up the ranks. He is also on the Spirit of Community Committee, which began as a 2010 Winter Olympics liaison committee. Sharpe is also founder of the Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Society, and once sat as an ex-officio with the Economic Development Society.

Karen Bonell, Director, Marketing

Bonell sits on the Canadian Ski Council’s market research committee. “I’ve been doing that for five years. We look at market research for Canada; we look at all the ski areas and are getting a whole program in place where we’re trying to get enough information so we can make some critical decisions for marketing … to get more people into the sports of skiing and snowboarding,” she said.
“The committee created a model for growth four years ago to help strategize where they could be most effective in putting in new programs, she said. “What we’ve found is we really have to work on the beginners. We get a lot of people trying the sport but not a lot sticking with it.”

Bonell also serves on the marketing committee for Tourism Association of Vancouver Island and is heading up TAVI’s 2010 Task Force. She gave up her seat on Comox Valley Tourism, but recruited Mike Manara, who heads up the Resort’s snow school, to take her place.

Kate Dodd, Resort Controller and Director of Human Resources

Dodd is a director with Go To, a non-profit organization designed to ensure there’s enough employees in the tourism sector for the growth that’s going to happen in the next 10 to 15 years. She also sits on Go To’s finance committee. Up until 2005 Dodd was Production Manager for Vancouver Island MusicFest, and was also a board member. “I still volunteer for MusicFest,” she said.

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