Big White Ski Resort’s village centre, Saturday afternoon. (Big White Ski Resort)

Big White Ski Resort’s village centre, Saturday afternoon. (Big White Ski Resort)

‘Don’t wear your mask, we’ll pull your pass’; Big White reflects on new health guidelines

“This is as serious as skiing out of bounds, if not more so,” says Big White Ski Resort official

Don’t wear a mask? They’ll take away your pass; Big White Ski Resort officials have been taking new health orders seriously.

Just Saturday morning (Nov. 21), they revoked three ski passes from individuals who refused to wear masks at the resort.

Days before, opening day Thursday (Nov. 19) coincided with the day the province announced new province-wide health guidelines requiring the use of masks.

READ MORE: Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Those who refuse to wear them are having their resort passes suspended for at least a week to start. If there’s a second occurrence, their passes are being pulled for a month, and so on.

“It’s just like when you break the alpine responsibility code, you ski out of bounds… everyone is trying to keep everybody else safe, and this is as serious as skiing out of bounds, if not more so,” said Michael Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort.

However Ballingall said he’s encouraged by the large majority of people who are following the rules. By mid-day Saturday, the resort had given out just seven masks to those who didn’t have them.

“(We had a) good response, I would say about 95 per cent of people complied with wearing your mask in line. We had a few anti-maskers. It’s pretty simple, if they don’t wear their mask, we pull their pass,” he said.

“Once we told them they lose their skiing privileges, the argument stopped pretty quick.”

READ MORE: New vintage-style restaurant coming to Big White Ski Resort

For several hours each morning since opening, Ballingall has visited every ski lift and, using a megaphone, reminded people of the rules; keep your mask on and stay six feet apart.

“I’m happy that people are showing their frustration on Facebook and Instagram, and not in the lineup,” he said.

And many were around to hear him, as well. The senior vice president couldn’t recall a busier opening day. Parking lots filled up quickly, some in less than 20 minutes. This energy, he said, continued into the weekend as well.

“The parking lots were as full as they are at Christmas time,” said Ballingall.

New regulations put in place across the province have affected many things, including how places like Big White Ski Resort operate. Ballingall explained he and his staff are focused on keeping everyone safe.

New rules include stricter indoor capacities, and outdoor lineups only, to pick up passes. He said keeping your distance and wearing your mask while skiing or snowboarding is the easy part; it’s going to the washroom, and other things that require indoor facilities that’s requiring the most work.

As a result, Big White is erecting two more outdoor washroom facilities, to add to their one already in place. They have also been encouraging patrons to use their vehicle as their locker, and their tailgates as their lunch stations.

“This is brand new for everybody, nobody’s been through this,” Ballingall explained.

Going forward, he’s feeling positive.

“The good people, the 99.9 per cent of people complying, are frustrated with the ones that aren’t, because they could ruin it for everybody,” said Ballingall. “Our pass holders are doing a great job of policing each other.”

Conditions at the resort are good. By Saturday afternoon temperatures had dropped to -7C, with scattered clouds, and a 116 cm alpine snow base.

READ MORE: West Kelowna winery temporarily closes after guest tests positive for COVID-19

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Town has passed the 2021 budget, with a five per cent spending increase. (Claire Palmer photo)
Town council approves 2021 budget and tax rate bylaw

The budget will increase by five per cent this year

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

The Salmo Public Library’s director Taylor Caron with her award. Photo: Submitted
Salmo Public Library director wins provincial award

Taylor Caron has been recognized by her peers for innovation and advocacy

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

A property crime map for the month of March shows the hot spot for crimes is centered around the area where the Victory Church homeless shelter is located. (City Submitted)
B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute

Mayor sends letter urging premier to reconsider Eby’s use of paramountcy powers

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

The Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking member artist submissions for a summer exhibit called Enchanted: A World of Fantasy. Submissions are open until June 30, 2021. (VCAC photo)
Vernon artists’ fantasy worlds wanted for summer exhibit

Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking submissions for Enchanted: A World of Fantasy

A woman is hoping that her dog Ginger ran away from the fire that erupted in her Osoyoos home Saturday night. The home caught fire twice in two days and is totally destroyed. (Contributed)
Dog missing after saving woman from huge house fire in Osoyoos

The woman escaped the burning home, but she hopes her dog Ginger ran away to safety

Most Read