It takes a whole community to raise a ski lodge

The front of the new Revelstoke Nordic Ski Lodge. Laura Stovel photo

Editor’s Note:

Dave Kaegi

This is the first in a series of articles about local volunteers that will be appearing in The Revelstoke Current this year. Volunteers are very important in our community as they are the engines that drive the non-profit sector. Without their dedication, talents, time and generosity our community would likely not be the wonderful place we know and love.

By Jill Zacharias

A couple of years ago, Dave Kaegi had a vision. “I saw the need for a day lodge at Mt. Macpherson, so I went to the Nordic Ski Club executive, told them I’d join and see it done.” He smiles. “Course it’s always more work than you think it’ll be. But everybody came through. It wouldn’t have happened without all the support and effort from the club membership and from so many different directions. We raised nearly $450,000 but I bet we’ve had over $800,000 in local contributions and volunteer labour.”

It started with a feasibility study that proposed and priced out a variety of scenarios including the day lodge, custodian residence, maintenance facility, a micro-hydro project which would have supplied electricity, and night-lighting for the Mickey Olsen loop. The membership voted on the options and over 90% said, “go for it all”. Then came the work of rounding up funding and the arduous task of applying for and receiving the license of occupation from the Integrated Land Management Bureau. Kaegi knew this part would require full-time dedication for a while but with the majority of his business taking place during the summer months he knew he could take the time in winter to see it through. “I’m a doer and I had the background for this type of thing. Plus, I’m passionate about it”. Through sheer steadfast perseverance, the license was acquired within a year – a process that usually can take 2 to 5 years.

The club itself laid the first money on the table, in the form of  $50,000 cash and the promise of ‘sweat equity’ – volunteer donation of time and labour. This level of commitment proved to be a key leverage point for raising funds. However, despite outstanding fundraising success, Kaegi knew it wouldn’t be enough. The micro-hydro project and lighting a trail for night skiing had to be put on the backburner. The cost of doing the preliminary groundwork for even a small micro-hydro project was prohibitive. As well, the club wanted to build a lodge that would be a testament to Revelstoke’s history, one that would stand the test of time and be a positive reflection on the community.

And the community came through. The first landmark was a complete rendering of the building designs by Glenn O’Reilly – free of charge.  For the (incredible!) list of contributions, please click here

When Kaegi’s busy season started up in the spring, Kevin Bollefer stepped up and took the lead on project management. With the exception of the feasibility study, all work by both Kaegi and Bollefer has been volunteer, and when the budget got tight, the call went out to club members to “be part of building the lodge”. Some people spent a day, while others have repeatedly come out to do all manner of work from painting inside to raking gravel outside.

The end result is a modest but well-built day lodge with the custodian residence above, a spacious maintenance facility to house grooming equipment, a stadium track for races, and a terrain park for kids. Club fees remain low, while membership has already hit an all time high. “Now we have the capacity to hold regional races, and the goal within 5 years is to host a BC cup race”, says Kaegi. General estimates are that each regional event would bring about $30,000 into the community. Kaegi says he’ll stay on as president of the club for a little while, then hopes to pass the torch.

In the meantime, the club is hosting a big thank you party for all funders and contractors on January 26 from  7 pm to 9 pm. Guess what? Begbie Brewery is providing free beer, Brydon Roe is providing free transportation, and the Modern is contributing food. The generosity of Revelstoke just doesn’t stop.

Jill Zacharias is a member of the Community Futures Development Corporation’s Volunteer Committee.
Click here to learn more about the CFDC

Please click here to view additional photos of the new lodge

This series on volunteerism will continue…