By Chris Marchand
There was a moment in Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson’s speech at the Dryden Business Excellence Awards that snapped me to full attentive engagement from my usual posture of aloof detachment.
Bonny Skene told me later on that she too had experienced the same thing upon hearing the subject matter turn to the Dryden Ski Club.
Wilson brought up a conversation that is so mired in frustration that it is rarely had anymore — that of Dryden Ski Club’s struggles to re-certify its #4 rope-tow for operation.
Many years, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars spent by the club on this problem, seems to have only scratched the surface of the bureaucratic obstacles seemingly erected for the purpose of eradicating the use of rope tows in Canada.
While it’s admittedly an archaic lift design by modern standards, you’d be hard pressed to find a more efficient system for a small hill like ours.
I stopped reporting on the ‘Senior Saga’ after a few years because it felt as though I was placing an undue amount of pressure on a group of volunteers who already had enough problems without me making their lives dificult.
Also, as a club member, I became acutely aware of my inability to dedicate even a fraction of the time given by some of the club families to the organization, some of whom make it a way of life. There were indeed times in my life when sliding down mountains played a guiding role — something I owe in part to that #4 tow.
So many years have passed since the bullwheel has turned on Senior and in the eyes of rare birds like Chris Hupfauer and Nick Ford there’s the loneliness of more than one lost generation of young athletes who may never see the point in making a life of adventure out of skills honed right here — like many others who heeded the call before them.
The operational status of the #4 lift is the difference between an environment that can challenge and inspire, or merely providing a babysitting service — the perfect excuse to just buy the kid a pass instead of joining them for a day on the hill.
At first I thought Wilson’s inclusion of the issue in a speech for the business community was a bit of a non-sequitor. Yet, consider how emblematic the issue is for Dryden’s ever-shrinking ability to provide the same experiences and options to our youth that lifelong residents have enjoyed through our lives.
We see this happening with our restaurants, our movie theatres and other quality of life amenities that we now must seek elsewhere.
We might not be able to keep everything as our community changes, but is this one of those opportunities where we can rage against the dying of the light? Or is there anybody left who remembers how great it used to be?
Seriously though, with Dryden Ski Club season passes ranging from $99 (under 18, 60+) to $149 for the rest (until Dec. 1) you should probably just buy a pass anyway.