The business advantage – acting on Climate Change

We’ll bring you quick snaps and video and other tips as the next few weeks of Climate negotiations at COP15 with more than 90 countries from around the world begin to grapple with setting emissions targets, setting up a global fund for mitigating climate change impacts, and many other global actions.

Here is a good video that brings the vision of corporate executives and game-changers to the fore. Businesses that change their operating policies to mitigate climate change and reduce their carbon footprints will also be the beneficiaries of a major economic fortunes.


First hoar frost of the season


Hoar Frost on Thistle, Riding Mountain National Park

Hoar Frost on Thistle with moon rise


We are always delighted with the onset of winter, a time of the year when we get the opportunity to experience some amazing effects of weather.  Hoar frost is one of those phenomena that makes winter on the prairies so magical.

There are several online sources that offer an explanation of Hoar Frost (or radiation frost).  Hoarfrost refers to white ice crystals, loosely deposited on exposed objects or the ground, that form on cold, clear nights when heat losses (infrared radiation) into the open skies cause objects to a temperature which is colder than the dewpoint of the air next to the surface. Frost is frozen water that has condensed from some of the water vapour contained in the air.

Hoarfrost in Riding Mountain National Park provides great photographic opportunities for hikers, snowshoers, or wildlife viewers.  It tastes wonderful on your tongue.  It brings to life the magic of nature.  What I love about this kind of natural phenomenon is that some of the best things in tourism are not “things”; they are discoveries of the ordinary in your backyard.  We take it for granted.  Our guests, however, are looking for just this kind of extra-ordinary discovery.

Hoar frost and rising moon, Riding Mountain National Park

Hoar frost and rising moon



I look forward to introducing our visitors over the next few months to more of the special ways to experience Riding Mountain – a season of hoarfrost, snowshoeing, night-sky “star stitching”, wolf howling, tracking animal “Stories in the Snow”, and many more snowy delights.


Folk history with Cara Luft

It is one thing to entertain. It is another to educate. But, when a good songwriter and musician bring a sharp focus to both entertain and educate, you are in for a treat. Cara Luft did just that last night at her Home Routes House Concert in Onanole, Manitoba. Having been raised in a home in Calgary, where folk-singing was part of the family repertoire, Cara was exposed to traditional British folk-songs, the songs of family friend James Keelaghan (who has since moved to Winnipeg, and won Juno), and many other styles and genres of music. Her guitar playing and songwriting started at an early age.

Cara Luft Performs at Home Routes House Concert in Onanole

Just before Cara left for Ashern, Manitoba, another stop on her Home Routes house circuit this November (2009), I asked Cara to respond to a few questions about her artistic performance last night with about 35 people present for a Friday night in Onanole. I am sure that you’ll be delighted with some of her reflections in her interview below.  Enjoy!

Pictures say a thousand words

Pictures do say a thousand words – The Himalayan Glaciers are melting – this spells trouble for millions of people. See this image, which compares a 1921 image of the Himalayan Mountains showing Mount Everest to a 2009 image. The changes are startling. Feeder glaciers have disappeared. Loss of 340 0 400 vertical feet of ice mass is shown. The increased heat absorbing surfaces of exposed rock is easy to see.

Images cut through rhetoric. We need the leadership of world leaders at Copenhagen to make the commitments to:

  1. Reduce CO2 emissions (Which means Canada has to agree to cut its carbon emissions, and right now, Canada is trying to make this contingent on other developing countries setting ambitious targets. This is nonsense. Playing political games with our planet is not what we have elected our politicians to do. They are accountable to our future generations.)
  2. Limit global temperature increase to 2ºCelsius in developed and developing countries.
  3. Assist financially those countries that need assistance to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation issues.
  4. Put into place an international global governance approach to manage financial resources that reflect the political realities of today.

The impacts of climate change will be widespread across the globe. In order to understand more about what the human impact of high-end climate change might be, and therefore what would happen if a successful agreement cannot be reached at Copenhagen, the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre produced an interactive map outlining some of the impacts, based on the latest peer-reviewed science. Click on this amazing interactive map to learn more.

Will our Prime Minister please go to Copenhagen in December?

Today, I viewed a straight-forward message from the children to President Obama telling him to lead the US at the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December.  I would like to send a similar message to our Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The most important reasons for Canada to participate in the UN Climate Talks is to demonstrate our capacity for leadership, action, contribution financially, and commitment as a developed country (that has one of the highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world)  and share a commitment to reducing CO2 emissions to 350ppm and dropping global temperatures by 2º Celsius.

Will our grand-children say…”Sorry, our prime minister was too busy making a political announcement at another Tim Horton’s donut shop to give a damn about climate change?”  Come on Mr. Prime Minister, listen to what the American kids are saying to their President.

What will you say to your children and grand-children about how instrumental you were in “making a difference” as a Canadian leader to reducing our emissions and global temperature in December of 2009 when over 190 countries in the world will make agreements about how we act together to solve this problem.   This is not about individual beliefs; it’s about global partnership and unity in the face of the most important economic and environmental issue our planet has ever faced.

Clear Lake Golf Course – A vision about sustainability as “just doing the right thing”

These are ordinary folks doing extra-0rdinary things.  Ian Sarna, General Manager and Greg Holden, Superintendent of the Clear Lake Golf Course in Onanole, Manitoba are disappointed, yet happy to be in Saint John.  They were one of the finalists in the Parks Canada-sponsored Sustainable Tourism Award.   They have just witnessed 350 guests from all across Canada learn about the Clear Lake Golf Course during the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national gala dinner and presentation of awards of excellence.  As Ian and Greg would say, “sustainability is not something separate from what they do”.  It’s just part of doing business right.   And, they’ve been doing it right for 16 years.

TIAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

IAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

Two other Manitoba tourism partners went away with the coveted Nova Scotian crystal trophies – The Air Canada Business of the Year to Wa’Chee Lodge from Churchill;  and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Event of the Year award to Folklorama.

The Clear Lake Golf Course had a vision 16 years ago of managing a golf course that exemplified and enriched the national park mandate.  They have delivered on that, in piles of compost, 300,000 litres of water saved annually with their composting toilet systems, recycling of all wastes and garbage, and use of bio-diesel.  As Greg says, “we’ve learned to turn what we used to call a waste stream – daily garbage from the restaurant and clippings from the golf course – into a resource stream”.  This has saved on annual financial expenses for purchase of inputs, and helped to establish a low carbon golfing experience at Riding Mountain National Park that is the best in Canada for demonstrating environmental leadership, giving back to community, and maintaining a very profitable business model.

I, too, am disappointed that they did not bring back crystal to Manitoba.  But, Greg and Ian both experienced the passion and pride that is part of Canada’s tourism industry….it was alive and tangible all evening long, as various tourism businesses were acknowledged, won crystal awards, or students won sustainable tourism scholarships, or we heard stories of excellence.

My sense is that the story of the Clear Lake Golf Course and golfing may not be completely understood, as a significant contributor to tourism.  The scale of the Clear Lake Golf Course’s annual revenues, re-investments, the work of their charitable foundation, and the leadership role that the golf course has taken from an environmental management perspective is world class.   No other golf course in Canada has taken the remarkable steps that this golf course has.  You will see the Clear Lake Golf Course nominated for other provincial and national awards.  Stay tuned!

Congratulations to the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course for having made it as a finalist in the TIAC annual tourism awards.   Well done!