BUSINESS BUZZ: Baldface Lodge continues work on new headquarters

Our columnist also reports on a new tourism association and a Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism contest

Face value: Baldface Lodge founder and CEO Jeff Pensiero posts up in front of the operation’s new all purpose operational hub at the corner of Vernon and Stanley. Asked about the state of next season, Pensiero admits things are “a bit of a duck shoot” for the time being. Photo: Darren Davidson

By Darren Davidson

While next winter is a long ways away, the deepest season of the year is never far from minds in a town as reliant on the snow-centric tourism sector as Nelson.

Baldface Lodge is busy at the corner of Vernon and Stanley. The world renowned local cat skiing destination, now 20 years old, is slated to open its new all-purpose operations hub in time for next season, saving some of the square footage for a restaurant down the road.

Founder and CEO Jeff Pensiero has hired a crew that includes North Mountain Construction, engineers EffiStruc Consulting, Cover Architecture, Covet Interiors and some great local sub trades, all under the direction of Baldface GM Simon Hanbury.

“It’s actually been a great team,” says Pensiero. “It’s a lot easier to build down here in Nelson than up at 6,750 feet in the woods!”

With a nod to the building’s history, the new venue will save and showcase its original interior ceiling and burly old roof and truss structure.

Like all of the Nelson region’s cat and heli backcountry operations, the Baldface season came to a screeching stop mid-March due to the COVID pandemic.

“Next year is a bit of a duck shoot at this point,” admits Pensiero, who Zoomed in for a meeting last Friday with HeliCat Canada, the governing body for all the nation’s mechanized backcountry operations. “I’m going to wait till October to see what the world looks like, and take it from there.”

With HeliCat Canada having cancelled its spring conference in Penticton this month, the organization, which represents 20 helicopter skiing and cat skiing operations in the Kootenay-Columbia region alone, is in watch and wait mode, like so many other industries.

“We encourage everyone to stay informed and to comply with the latest advice of our regional and federal health officials,” says the organization’s site, “as we navigate this strange and uncertain era of our collective history.”

•••

The new Arrow Slocan Tourism Association is working on its first-ever brand and marketing plan. The new destination marketing organization will be responsible for developing and driving tourism in the Slocan Valley and Arrow Lakes. Megan Chadwick is ASTA’s executive director. Nelson’s Nicola Shilletto and her company PinkDog Design are tackling marketing and promotional material development.

•••

Back on the construction beat: Mike Moor’s company Cornerstone General Contracting Ltd. is tackling a terrific restoration project in the building at the corner of Baker and Kootenay, home to Comishin & Associates Accountants, amongst others. Watch this space for more details on the Traction on Demand project at the Nelson Legion, where veteran Nelson architect Thomas Loh is leading the project.

•••

Speaking of Traction on Demand, the international tech company’s program architect and local resident Emily Beach was included in a telling tale in The Globe and Mail recently. The story, written by Maritime-based journalist Lindsay Jones, focused on Canadians who’ve left big cities for far more rural dispatches to live life without sacrificing their career interests.

“The growing cost of housing and interminable commutes are leading some to trade city life for the mountains, the seaside, towns and country roads,” Jones writes. “Some don’t even see it as a compromise. To them, a simpler life is a successful life and they are redefining what it means to live in rural Canada. They are rural by choice.”

The story looks at a chef, freelance videographer, weaver and a high end caramel maker in some beautifully chilled out parts of the nation. Beach once spent nearly two hours a day communing in Vancouver. Her ride to work now? About 60 seconds.

•••

Here’s your Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce new board, elected via Zoom last month. Re-elected: Michael Borch (Baker Street Menswear), Bob Hall (Selkirk College) and Rebeckah Hornung (Whitewater Resort). New board members: Chris Drysdale (Cloudside Hotel), Sean Dooley (Hipperson’s Hardware) and your Business Buzz host, Darren Davidson (Davidson Communications and Media).

•••

In announcing the creation of a business outreach team touching base with every single one of Nelson’s businesses, Mayor John Dooley and council shared a sincere thanks to business owners last week.

“We thank you for the sacrifices you, as a business operator, have made to help us all get through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dooley, who stressed the importance that businesses open slowly, and customers and staff alike stay vigilant of social distancing needs.

The Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures Central Kootenay are partnering with the city on the project along with Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism.

Nelson businesses rely heavily on tourism and local/regional foot traffic and are therefore especially vulnerable, says the mayor.

The outreach team’s goals? To boost assistance awareness for businesses and non-profits, help navigate federal, provincial and other programs, understand what other support you require to get through this pandemic; and to work with you to ensure the economy recovers.

•••

Last week was Tourism Week in B.C. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism boss Dianna Ducs says tourism provides a job for approximately one out of every 16 people employed in B.C., and probably more in this region.

Ducs says with borders temporarily closed to Americans, and BC Parks limiting guests to B.C. residents, it’s our time to staycation.

Visit nelsonkootenaylake.com and discover your own backyard. Share your travel photos with us using #findingawesome and #kootenayroadtrip. On June 25 they will choose one of the images to win an awesome Nelson Kootenay Lake package getaway.

Got tips for the Business Buzz? Send them to editor@nelsonstar.com

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Badge of honour: Gericks Cycle and Ski’s Charles Arnold makes the message clear for retail and service providers back on the job. The badges were provided to bike dealers around the nation who sell Norco/Live To Play products. Mayor John Dooley is stressing that businesses need to open slowly and customers and staff alike must stay vigilant of social distancing needs. Photo: Darren Davidson

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