For us old-timers who call Saskatoon home, we can remember a day when we could “Ski the Strap”. Mount Blackstrap wasn’t a great ski hill but was good enough to spend a day at and have a really good time without having to drive to North Battleford or Alberta.
Since it has close, I find myself looking at it as I drive to Regina and sighing each time we go past.
For so long we have seen it has a (unused) ski hill but it can be so much more than that.
As the snow melts each spring in Whistler, snow grooming machines are replaced by shovels who create and groom all sorts of mountain bike trails out of the mountain. Not only does it create a world class attraction but it brings revenue into the park, something that has always been lacking from Blackstrap which has always been subject to the unpredictable Saskatchewan winters.
While Pike Lake attracts a crowd all summer long, Blackstrap Provincial Park is greatly under-utilized despite it’s proximity to Saskatoon. Done right it could be a fabulous summer destination of children and parents alike as they have the chance to race downhills all day and then relax by the lake at night. Other hills like this have offered pickup at local destinations like McDonalds where a lift ticket and bus pass can be purchased (What could go wrong sending your child mountain biking for the day?) and they are taken away for a day of cycling or skiing.
It is going to take a lot of investment and dreams, some of which were expressed last fall. Hopefully we will see an all-season park at Blackstrap much sooner than later. It could be a great addition to both summer and winter life here and if done well, bring in people from all over the province.