A letter to Howard Katkov from a resident of Rossland

By Contributor
March 26th, 2024

[Editor’s Note:  Before publishing this letter, we ensured that Mr. Katkov was aware and had an opportunity to respond, and he indicated that there would be no reply from RED.]

Mr Katkov,

I am taking the time to write to you to express my concerns over the planned development you are advertising in the vicinity of Red Mountain, more precisely, the Glades development. I was present at the promotional virtual meeting you offered to prospective buyers on January 24, 2024. During this meeting, you mentioned the unique skiing experience you and many folks have had at Red Mountain and praised the emotional connection, the engagement of locals and the friendliness of staff. Then, you went on to invite people to invest in your project, by touting how easy it would be for them to rent their condo when they are not here skiing themselves.

To contrast with this experience, a few days previous to that meeting, I had a visit with a friend who mentioned to me that her partner was working at the ski hill, but that he was not allowed to park his camper van in the Red parking lot as a staff, as opposed to non-staff people who could park their campers there for 25$ a night. I doubt Red Mountain staff will stay friendly in the long run, if they are feeling like their wellbeing and accessibility to affordable housing is compromised.

The effect of building and offering luxurious accommodations at the ski hill has many impacts. It essentially creates empty buildings for many days/weeks/months of the year, while local staff who maybe working seasonally are finding it harder and harder to find affordable places to live. It certainly does not contribute to building that sense of community that you speak to.

When you arrived in town, that sense of community already was well established through the day to day living of different folks from all walks of life who were finding commonality in doing what they love; skiing, mountain biking and spending time in nature, as well as being part of a strong and supportive community. When my partner was seriously injured from a backcountry accident 15 years ago, it was the local people who showed up at my door with meals, books, readiness to help, and the just plain old “what-do-you-need?” kind of offers that really warmed my heart and made me feel like I belonged. It was not the people that own a condo and come skiing here one or two weeks a year that had my back.

I recognize that you have brought some improvements to the ski hill by purchasing new lifts and renovating some existing buildings, but let’s be real – these things are not what create and reinforce a sense of community. I cannot help but perceive these projects, while being offered as benevolent and generous improvements to the ski hill, as really being about promoting a better skiing experience and ultimately developing and selling real estate at Red.

When you mention at the meeting that schools were closing 11 years ago and that the ski hill improvements and ensuing reputation are somewhat responsible for the population growth we see now, I need to point out a few things: The closing of local schools, and losing of the senior high school grades in Rossland happened because our provincial government at the time was not adequately funding rural education in BC, and our local school board was lacking vision and imagination. I think that people move to Rossland today for the community, the beauty of the surrounding nature and access to the backcountry, not because you put the ski hill on the map. You are an investor, a businessman, a developer, and probably really good at what you do, but you are not the saviour of Rossland.

If you were interested in truly promoting and maintaining the sense of community that is such a landmark of Rossland and of the Red Mountain experience, you would make it your mandate to build affordable housing for your staff at the ski hill, year-round; THAT would create a sense of community, as opposed to building luxurious condos which will stay empty for part of the year.

When I meet people who are new to Rossland or are visiting, I tell them: “Welcome to Rossland!” I am one of the locals who, as you say, contributes to making Rossland a friendly place. I am happy to share the beauty of our community with newcomers and visitors. But tell me, where does the land grab stop?

It is profoundly sad to see the land surrounding the ski-hill slowly getting parcelled out to developers for profit. I know it’s business as usual. It’s aligned with the infinite growth of our economic system, but nature can’t really sustain infinite growth. The land has recovered well from the mining days which gave rise to the town of Rossland and much of it has historically remained part of our commons. The new development around the ski hill has essentially been encroaching on that land, bit by bit, housing project by housing project, to “better” enjoy it. But if we build it out, it’s gone.

I would be remissed to not invite you to have a truly progressive vision for the beautiful natural land that remains around our community ski hill. A visionary alternative would be to give the land that is eventually to be developed a status of Community Land that can be preserved, enjoyed by all, and can just stay as it is, for the next hundred year. The land is part of what makes Rossland the great community that it is. Nature is part of our community. The Rossland community belongs to nature.

If more land needs to be built upon and developed around Red Mountain, then built affordable, sustainable housing for local staff and community. That would be a true act of belonging. That would be true leadership.


Martine Bédard

Rossland community member and resident

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