Here at HeliCat HQ, we're up to our elbows in preparation for our upcoming Spring Meeting in Penticton, BC, April 30th. The theme for this year's event is sustainability, and we've been having some really interesting discussions within our team and across the sector lately to determine how best to address the many issues and challenges facing the helicopter and snowcat skiing industry with respect to this complex and ever-evolving topic. In order to get to the heart of some of our common concerns, however, it's important to start from a place of shared understanding with respect to the concept of sustainability itself.

In essence, there are three lenses through which to examine and consider the sustainability of any operation or industry: profit, people and planet. This "Triple Bottom Line" approach, as it is commonly called, is essential as we seek to promote and foster healthy growth within the HeliCat sector.


Obviously, the financial aspect of any business is key to the survival of the operation. Without economic sustainability, the best intentions in all other realms will go to waste. Fortunately, the HeliCat sector is enjoying steady gains with an average annual increase in skier days of 3% (2013-2015) and projected continued growth for the current season. But, as we all know, the success of our industry is not simply a measure of our profit margins.


So much of our future depends upon the relationships we are forming today. From employee training and retention to community building in the towns and cities where operations are based, it's essential that we continue to foster positive connections. One of the biggest risks within our sector is access to land, and this requires dedicated partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, such as First Nations, public recreation groups and policy makers within government. Recognizing the need to share the land and act as stewards will not only help to ensure sustainable access, but will  promote and encourage responsible land use across the board.


Environmental sustainability is on everyone's mind these days, and the HeliCat sector is no exception. Between the potential impact of our industry on the natural world and the increasing impact of climate change on our industry, it's clear we have much work to do in order to prevent or, at least, minimize the negative effects on both sides of the equation. It's a matter of addressing the issues and seeking long-term solutions. Like any growth spurt, it's bound to be a bit uncomfortable and challenging. Fortunately, we like that sort of thing; we thrive in uncomfortable and challenging situations!

These social and environmental concerns illustrate how sustainability is not simply a reflection of an industry's profitability. Any organization's ability to operate can be severely limited by the non-monetary pieces of the bigger picture. Like Gestalt said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the HeliCat sector is a prime example of a wide variety of parts working in common to create a singular uncommon experience for guests, staff and community members alike.