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

The five graduating members of the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Lakers U18AAA girls hockey team – Jessica Engelbrecht (from left), Makenna Howe, Cheree Peters, Jayden Perpelitz, and Alexis Bishop – have all committed to collegiate hockey programs in Canada and the U.S. (Photo submitted)
Vernon-based hockey squad sends 5 to college ranks

Thompson Okanagan U18AAA Lakers players heading to Canadian and U.S. programs

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Police report outlines latest efforts to fight North Okanagan sex crimes

The local RCMP sex crimes unit has been involved in a number of investigations so far in 2021

Rutland Senior Secondary School. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Two Rutland schools exposed to COVID-19

Interior Health confirmed exposures at Rutland Senior Secondary and Pearson Road Elementary

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.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

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

Members of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus sing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Vernon choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read