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page A2 // the jasper local // issue 158 // sunday, december 1, 2019

editorial //

Local Vocal When my three-year-old and I burst out of the cold and into the Jasper Activity Centre last week, I don’t know who was more excited: me, to see what soup Glenda

had on offer that day (vegetable lentil, OMG!) or Cora, to watch the zamboni after noon hour hockey. Turns out, there was no hockey that day. As I was thinking about how to let her down easy, something much more exciting suddenly commanded her attention: In the corner of the room stood a Christmas Tree, next to which lay a colourful box containing a handful of presents. Hoo boy. What I would have given for that nozamboni conversation in that moment. As I temporarily coaxed Cora away from the gifts with Glenda’s soul-soothing soup (seriously, it’s that good), I did my best to explain why the books and toys in the Santas Anonymous box weren’t for us, but instead they were for other kids in Jasper who we wanted to make sure had a special Christmas. You can imagine how far I got with that. “But I want to have a special Christmas in Jasper, dad,” she said, heading back over to the goodies, point proven. I needed another tack. I explained how giving someone a present feels even better than getting one ourselves. Blank stare. I tried again, using the “Sharing is Caring” mantra I knew she was familiar with from daycare. Unfortunately, that worked about as well as when her younger cousin snatched away her favourite Paw Patrol stuffy on a recent playdate. Did she just roll her eyes at me? I was running out of ways to explain how the magic of Christmas was seeing it spread. I was running out of ways to show her that sometimes, our neighbours and fellow community members may not be able to take part in Christmas without a little help. I really didn’t want to have to yank the gifts she was holding out of her tiny little hands. The 10-year-old who was waiting for her quesadilla didn’t need to see that. Finally, I had a breakthrough. It was as much a revelation for myself as it was for her. Santas Anonymous wasn’t for other people, as I had been trying to point out. It was for everyone, including us. Everyone needs help sometimes. When we can help, we do. When we need help, it’s OK to ask for it. “Those gifts are for people just like you and me, Cora,” I told her. Slowly, she put them back in the box. It might have been the magic of Christmas, or it might have been the soup. Either way, my soul felt soothed. bob covey //

You're giving me the Mo feeling

This year’s Movember campaign was like my buddy Geoff’s face fuzz: barely noticeable. In 2019, the mo-momentum seems to have been shaved clean. Am I chaffed about crusty must dusters not creating much of a fuss? Hardly. Regarding the lip doilies’ demise, I say: Gillette-it go. Over the last eight years or so, while they’ve raised a impressive amount of ‘stache cash, Jasper men have contributed to an over-saturation of crumb catchers. By my

estimation, there are only a few bros that can rock a non-creepy mo. The rest of you, get over your handlebars! It’s not just an aesthetic argument; I’m trying to be practical. Can you blame would-be donors if, after so many Movembers, they now bristle at being shaken down? This campaign is feeling more and more like a 5 o’clock shadow: cute for a day, but lazy. Don’t get me wrong, the Movember message is a good one—check your boys, boys—but can’t we

conjure something more creative than caterpillar carving? I know one thing, if it’s December and you’re still sportin’ a snot mop and you don’t drive a police cruiser for a living, you best have something to show for it. Donations, sure. But more important are conversations. Tell someone why your gravy grabber is good for his gonads. Otherwise, that mo’s all for show.

-Bob Covey (A version of this letter appeared in the Dec 1, 2017 edition of The Jasper Local)

The Jasper Local //

Jasper’s independent alternative newspaper 780.852.9474 • • po box 2046, jasper ab, t0e 1e0

Published on the 1st and 15th of each month Editor / Publisher

Bob Covey.................................................................................... Art Director

Nicole covey......................................................................... Advertising + sales

Email us today.......................................................................... cartoonist



// local budget

sunday, december 1, 2019 // issue 158 // the jasper local// page A3


Budget talk: Directors asked to cut the fat

Councillors deliberating over budget costs are once again asking municipal administrators to prioritize the community’s needs.

At the November 26 and 27 public budget meetings, council heard that the proposed overall municipal tax increase for 2020 is is five per cent, or just north of $406,000. That equates to $7 per $100,000 assessed value for residential properties and $35 per $100,000 for commercial properties. Like the 2019 public meetings, councillors heard from directors that record numbers of visitors have put a heavy toll on Jasper’s aging infrastructure and services. “The spike in visitation reveals that [our] oversize facilities are suffering the effects of aging and overuse and are in need

of major refurbishment or replacement,” Finance Director Natasha Melanchuk said in her opening statements. Council listened to budget proposals for updates to the town’s email system, meeting spaces and housing initiatives. They heard requests for development of a communications strategy and legislatives services support. They learned of leaky roofs, broken arena boards and outof-date shower facilities. They heard requests for equipment and for sidewalk replacements. “There is a finite limit to the resources we can provide,” Mayor Richard Ireland said. Councillor Rico Damota warned that the provincial government’s austerity measures would soon enough be built on the back of municipalities. “The province is going to

be tightening its belt. We have to start looking at doing the same thing,” he said. Councillors are asking directors to make tough choices. “Like last year we’re going to have to have hard conversations,” councillor Jenna McGrath said. “We’re asking the directors to prioritize. They’re the experts.” Councillors will review and discuss the proposed figures in the coming months. “There are millions of dollars worth of projects in one year alone,” said councillor Scott Wilson. “I think we’re asking for too much here.” The 2020-2024 proposed operating and capital budgets are available on the Municipality of Jasper’s website, www. Bob Covey //


page B1 // the jasper local // issue 158 // sunday, december 1, 2019

local news //

Avalanche at Marmot Basin buries bootpackers Marmot Basin staff are reviewing their safety protocols after volunteers working towards a season’s pass were caught in a size one avalanche November 25.

At approximately 11 a.m., 12 members of Marmot’s bootpacking crew were in the Eagles East area, driving their boots deep into the snow to help break up the early season rain crust. Bootpacking helps eliminate that crust—as well as other persistent weak layers which can cause snow stability problems later in the year. It is an avalanche mitigation technique primarily employed in the Rockies, where the snowpack often sets up precariously. As the bootpacking crew descended near the run called Drop Zone, an avalanche was triggered. Two people were partially buried in the size one slide. Another person— a staff member who was leading the volunteers—was buried over her head. Members of the party who were not buried helped extricate those involved. Marmot Basin President and CEO, Jason Paterson, said avalanche

Bootpackers are a critical part of Marmot Basin’s operation. On November 25, several members of the crew were caught in an avalanche. Marmot Basin said the response was swift. No one was hurt. // file photo

control staff are performing an internal investigation into what factors led up to the slide being triggered, and are not commenting on the incident until that investigation wraps up. Paterson stressed that there were no injuries, and that the slope was controlled—in this case bombed with explosives to help promote snow settlement—the day prior. “How we’re treating this internally is it’s a learning exercise and a good opportunity for our staff to be

aware of the playground we have here,” Paterson said. Marmot Basin staff use a variety of active intervention techniques to control avalanche slopes, including explosive work and ski cutting. Bootpacking requires a large team to walk up and down Marmot Basin’s steeper slopes. To meet that one-time need, the company recruits a team of volunteers, and as compensation for their efforts, at the end of a week of bootpacking, the volunteers

earn a season’s pass. Paterson said that safety is Marmot’s number one priority. “Employee safety is number one up here,” he said. “We put a high standard for what we determine as safe.” There was 60 centimetres of snow at mid-mountain on November 26, according to Marmot Basin’s Brian Rode. High winds likely helped cross-load steeper, convex slopes, Paterson said. bob covey //

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Local recreation//

sunday, december 1, 2019 // issue 158 // the jasper local// page B2

Jacques Lake patrol cabin will be operated as an alpine Club of Canada hut for a trial basis starting December 15. // Rogier Gruys Parks Canada

Alpine Club to operate Jacques Lake warden cabin Jacques is bacques. Skiers and snowshoers jonesing for a Jasper National Park winter backcountry experience can now book the Jacques Lake Patrol Cabin through the Alpine Club of Canada. Parks Canada and the ACC have entered into a 16-month trial agreement for the winter operation of the Jacques Lake Patrol Cabin. Nearly three years ago, Parks Canada announced the former warden station was slated to be among several JNP assets to be made available for rent to the public. At that time, it was thought that the rental program would operate under the JNP banner but in October, Field Unit Superintendent Alan Fehr told employees gathered for an all-staff meeting that the Alpine Club of Canada would be operating the property.

“The addition of the Jacques Lake Cabin provides an introductory level winter backcountry experience to novice visitors who may not otherwise experience Jasper’s backcountry at this time of year,” a press release has since stated. “The cabin will offer visitors rustic accommodation along an easy-to-moderate, non-technical trail.” The trail into Jacques Lake is 12 kilometres. There is no avalanche danger along the trail. The ACC operates a number of cabins throughout the mountain national parks, including four in Jasper: the Sydney Vallance Hut in the Fryatt Valley; the Wates-Gibson Hut in the Tonquin Valley; the Mount Colin Centennial Hut; and the Lloyd Mackay (Mt. Alberta) Hut. The Mount Colin and Mount Alberta Huts are closed in winter.

Parks Canada’s backcountry operations in Jasper National Park have changed over the years, reducing the frequency of use of patrol cabins, such as Jacques Lake. The Jacques Lake Cabin was identified as a viable option to be utilized for public enjoyment as it is not required for operations during the winter months. Parks Canada will retain ownership of the cabin while the ACC will be responsible for the booking, management and maintenance of the facility during the winter months. There will be no ACC membership requirement to book the Jacques Lake Cabin. Online reservations for the Jacques Lake Cabin open at 12 p.m. MST on December 2, with bookings beginning December 15. bob covey //


page b3+B4 // the jasper local // issue 158 // sunday. december 1, 2019

FEATURE story // by david harrap



valley we get our second camp. Sky clearing. Ice fog. Getting colder. A fire and a pork fillet for supper. In the tent I have on Millie’s knitted wool socks,

sparkle in the sunshine that’s streaming through the trees. The peanut butter has turned white. I use a saw to get through the loaf for breakfast toast. Liam

As we would find out. It’s November and the snow is calf-deep as we set off for Snake Indian country on a four-nighter to climb a couple of mountains. We should have skis I tell Liam. We fix pork chops over the fire that first night; in the tent I read only two pages of my book before my fingers freeze. (It’s too hard turning pages with gloves on). Next day it gets colder and colder and the snow deeper and deeper. We come across a warden cabin. Windows boarded. Big padlock on the door. No Trespassing sign, and a thermometer by the porch. We remove a board on the window and peer inside. I see a stove, imagining toasty warmth once we get it going; T-bone steaks in T-shirts. We feel like developing-world starving poor at the barbed-wire fence surrounding the exclusive enclave, with guards and guns and skull & crossbones and KEEP OUT OR ELSE. Instead, it’s -18 degrees Celsius and we’re for the cold of the trail. Before dropping to another

long johns, hat, underwear, more socks and an overbag over my -40 C down bag. It’s wet around my face from the melted frost build-up of our breathing. Tonight I can’t even manage a page. In Mongolia they would advise for this night: cover sheep. A cold moon shines down. Crackling cold when we get up. Liam’s thermometer reads -32C. When we speak our words

cooks bacon over the fire. “Well what are we going to do today?” Liam reckons we have no chance of climbing the mountains with all this snow. “We could go down to the valley for a look,” he says. We dry the overbags, thaw our frozen boots, put snacks in the packs and head for the valley. It’s already 11:30 a.m. Liam is wading through thighdeep snow, busting a track for




dad. We reach the valley. A creek. Running water. Blobs of ice. The slopes on our mountain burned from a 2009 fire. Well that was a short day, I reckon. Trip back to camp. A fire. Cups of tea. T-bone steaks. A game of cards. Glasses of port.

Maybe even read my book. Liam sets off. “Where on earth are you going?” “We might as well see how it goes.” He starts up the burn slope; reluctantly I follow— so much for wishful thinking. It’s hard going right from the off. I can’t make purchase in the sugar snow. Can’t kick steps. Liam has cleared it to the frozen ground, and because of the fire there are no shrubs to help pull ourselves up. The slope steepens. “I CAN’T DO IT!” I yell at Liam, who stops and looks down at his pathetic father floundering in the crud, a smirk on his face. “STOP SMIRKING AT ME!” I’m grovelling up the slope now on all fours. “It’ll be easier when we get to the ridge, Dad.” “How far’s that?” I glare.

Too bloomin’ far. “I CAN’T GET UP THIS BLOODY SLOPE!” I’m stuck. Too steep. Too slippery. My boots skid off frozen ground. No underbrush to grab, just burnt trunks of dead trees. This is awful. This is hell—but then it’s too cold for hell. This is the hardest struggle I’ve ever had. Liam bounding ahead. Waiting. Looking down with that imaginary smirk I could wipe

they try to blast us sideways off the mountain. The slope curves and now, in the last of the light, we have the full force of the wind at our backs driving us on to the summit. We pass an outcrop rock and finally spot the summit cairn. Liam ahead, dancing in the wind, making the summit. He finds the register. Only two entries. Terrible cold. I shelter, or try to, behind the cairn. I take off my gloves to write an entry but my fingers are sausages and I can’t grip the pencil. I rummage in my pockets for the camera to take the summit selfie. Liam takes one of me: I take one of Liam. “DAD! GET YOUR NOSE OFF THE CAMERA. YOU HAVE A WHITE SPOT!” The camera has frozen to my nose. The temperature is -28°C, with the wind gusting to 100 kph. On the old windchill scale that’s around sixty below. Cold enough to crack teeth. Frostbite in seconds.The coldest “The temperature is -28°C, climb—the coldest we’ve with the wind gusting ever been on a mountain. to 100 kph. On the old And we’ll be facing into windchill scale that’s the wind going down. around sixty below.” With no goggles, frozen eyeballs are a real threat. from his face. My feet are so We launch off the summit for cold. the shelter of the South Col: the I make the ridge, and it’s not so trees. I put a gloved hand in hard now—at least in steepness. front of my eyes to protect them. Higher up, Liam points out The wind wants to destroy us. goat tracks and the summit Liam shelters behind the off in the distance. We cross outcrop rock. “I’M OUT OF an open section, then into a THE WIND,” he yells. Then small patch of trees that had another attempted dash battling hidden from the fire. As we step frozen demons as we scamper out of the trees and on to the off the summit ridge for the summit slope the snow leopard darkness of the trees and a fourpounces. hour marathon back to camp. Coming out of the west, And I was figuring on an easy day. violent gusts of wind so strong David Harrap// Jasper’s David Harrap is the author of the soon-to-be-published book Over The Mountains, Under The Stars. Don’t ask him to read it to you in a tent, during the winter.




page B5 // the jasper local //issue 158 // sunday, december 1, 2019

Local arts and culture //

Parasite a pitch-black modern fairytale

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION PRAISED AS BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR The Jasper Film Club is bringing a politically-charged, cinematic wonder to the Chaba Theatre on December 12.

That film is Parasite. The winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Parasite is being praised as an urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes. It is being called one of the best films of not just the year, but the decade. Described as a comedy without clowns and a tragedy without villains, this “tonal marvel” mixes pathos and satire with thrills and drama in a perfectly controlled blend of genres. Director Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale. A vertical story of class struggle, Parasite observes and dissects with surgical precision the life of two families of different social backgrounds.The Parks are the picture of aspirational wealth, while The Kims are rich in street smarts, but not much else. The two houses are brought together and as the destinies of the two families cross, their explosive meeting exposes the merciless evils of class inequalities, culminating in a powerful and utterly original outcome. “It’s a conversation starter in ways we only get a few times a year, and a further reminder that Bong Joon-ho is one of the best filmmakers working today,” cooed critic Roger Ebert after seeing the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Parasite will be the Jasper Film Club’s third screening of the fall/winter season, and another opportunity to view curated selections

from TIFF, one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, and a permanent destination for film culture. The Jasper Film Club is proud to connect to TIFF through its seven annual screenings. Founded more than two decades ago, The Jasper Film Club is part of TIFF’s Film Circuit, the largest film community in Canada. This isn’t your local seniors club showing Turner Classic Movies on VHS (not that there’s anything wrong with that). TIFF believes that every Canadian should be able to see world-class cinema in their hometown, and The Jasper Film Club strives to select titles that Jasperites wouldn’t otherwise get to view. Cinephiles should know what an asset they have in the Jasper Film Club and what a great opportunity it provides to “transform the way people see the world through film,” as TIFF’s mission states. So on December 12 at 6:45 p.m., join The Jasper Film Club and treat yourself to not only a powerful movie, but to the power of connecting to a community of film lovers. Parasite (Rated R) Thursday • December 12 • 6:45 p.m.

(please note the earlier start time) Chaba Theatre, 604 Connaught Dr. $ 8 members $ 10 non-members

Parasite is garnering rave reviews. It plays December 12 at 6:45 p.m. as part of the Toronto International Film Festival Circuit, presented by the Jasper Film Club. //


local safety //

sunday, december 1, 2019 // issue 158 // the jasper local// page B6

Through thick and thin: skating safe on wild ice ice rescue instructor, and when he teaches two-day courses on ice awareness, he tells his students there’s a lot more to judging whether ice is safe or not by stomping one’s feet on it. “The foundation of all of these rescue courses is always decision making,” he said. It was mid-winter. Based on how Factors such as topography, cold it had been, plus their history of enjoying countless similar time of year, temperature and whether or not there is running skating sessions over the years, water all contribute to making they figured the ice was well a judgement call as to how to established. engage naturally-forming ice. “You could drive a truck on the lake,” Orfald-Clarke remembered. And the different types of ice that forms in the natural enviBut the ice wasn’t consistent. ronment are as varied as the While it was thick enough for a ways in which people access it. vehicle in some areas, in others, “We give people different tools it was hollow and wet. of preparedness depending on As the family skated further whether they’re skating, skiing, across the frozen wetland, sudsnowshoeing or snowmobiling,” denly, to Jamie’s horror, both of Orfald-Clarke said. his parents broke through the Often, the only way to get a ice. Luckily, it was in a shallow, good feel for the myriad factors marshy area. Thankfully, they of ice formation is to get to its were relatively close to home. breaking point—literally. “It was surprising,” he recalled. “It’s a really empowering expe“We weren’t really considering rience to go out on the ice and the possibility of going in.” jump up and down until you Orfald-Clarke quickly helped break through,” extricate his mom Orfald-Clarke and dad from the “If it had been minus said. water. Shortly Of course, he’s 30 degrees and if after, they built a wearing a dry fire and started to we were far away suit and a PFD warm up. from the cottage it when he does “If it had been could have been a so, but having a minus 30 degrees lot worse.” sense of how it and if we were feels to plunge far away from the into frigid waters offers a big cottage it could have been a lot advantage if the scenario were worse,” he said. to ever happen for real. That near-miss stayed with “It takes some of the mystery Orfald-Clarke. The whitewater away,” Orfald-Clarke said. paddling guide hadn’t been That doesn’t mean there aren’t giving ice skating the respect it deserved in terms of planning for still unknowns when it comes an incident-free outing. He never to playing safe on the ice. Even though we’ve had a recent cold thought twice about carrying snap, Orfald-Clarke says every the necessary safety equipment when canoeing or kayaking—and waterbody is different. Moreover, with the proliferation of he knew backcountry skiers and social media, weekend warriors snowboarders equipped themmay be tempted to gloss over selves with a quiver of rescue skating safety to snap their gear when venturing into avaskating selfie. Orfald-Clarke lanche terrain. However, when it emphasizes thinking ahead. came to recreating on a frozen For himself, a wild ice skating body of water, he wasn’t treating excursion always includes, at the environment as similarly dya bare minimum, an extra pair namic—or similarly dangerous. of socks and a stash of plastic “Even just getting a soaker can bag/boot liners, just in case he turn into a serious incident,” he steps through a soft spot. If he’s said. feeling more adventurous, he Seeing his parents in a vulnermight pack along the dry suit, able situation helped change his throw ropes and PFD. mind as to the real possibility “In Jasper we have a lot of difof contracting hypothermia by ferent micro climates,” he said. being a little too laissez-faire, and now he’s helping others shift “Lakes are definitely a lot more uniform than swamps and rivtheir perspective when it comes ers but conditions can change to getting on wild ice. Through quickly.” Boreal River Rescue in Ottawa, Orfald-Clarke is certified as an bob covey //

Several years ago, while spending time at the family cottage in Ontario, Jamie Orfald-Clarke and his parents went for a skate on the frozen lake.

Boreal River Rescue instructors on last year’s course // Danny Peled

Profile for The Jasper Local

The Jasper Local December 1, 2019  

Budget talk: Council looking to cut the fat; Santas Anonymous revelations; Avalanche at Marmot Basin buries bootpackers; Alpine Club of Cana...

The Jasper Local December 1, 2019  

Budget talk: Council looking to cut the fat; Santas Anonymous revelations; Avalanche at Marmot Basin buries bootpackers; Alpine Club of Cana...