Re: Making Locals Jaded

Dear Editor: Banff's Sunshine Village Responds

Healy Pass, Sunshine Village backcountry, Banff National Park, Alberta. Photo: Ryan Creary

Healy Pass, Sunshine Village backcountry, Banff National Park, Alberta. Photo: Ryan Creary

(Ed’s note: After an op-ed posted here, Sunshine Village contacted us requesting the opportunity to respond. In the name of curiosity and equal time, we agreed. Below is the unedited, official response from Sunshine Village. Powder welcomes healthy debate. Readers are welcome to leave their comments below. We ask that you keep them tasteful and avoid intentional inaccuracies.)

July 27, 2011
Powder Online

Dear Editor:

Re: Making locals jaded, July 11, 2011

The opinion article cited above reports on a controversy on the Teton Gravity Research blog site that involves Sunshine Village and some employees who were dismissed in December for cause. In his concluding remarks, the author asserts: “. . . there’s no denying that they’ve [Sunshine] just about fallen all over themselves to look as bad as possible.”

Unfortunately, as a popular anger management coach recently wrote in Psychology Today, when “the emotional mind is in charge, rationality goes out the window.” It’s time to try to bring some rationality to this emotionally charged issue.

The decision to let four senior employees go on Dec. 29, 2010, was not taken lightly, emotionally, harshly, quickly or without considerable review of the valid reasons for the action. It was a difficult one, but had to be done to ensure the safe and proper operation of the resort, including the enforcement of a ban on alcohol in the workplace. It is something we hope will never have to be done again.

The months that followed those dismissals have been very trying for the local family that owns Sunshine Village, as well as its managers and employees, because of the emotion and misinformation that has been spread on the Internet.

Sunshine is by far the most popular skiing and snowboarding resort in the Canadian Rockies. The resort was returned to local, family ownership 40 years ago, when Calgary businessman Ralph Scurfield Sr. purchased it from a corporation. After his untimely death in 1985, his eldest son, Ralph D. Scurfield, assumed principal control and has overseen major improvements to the resort. Some of the major landmarks since then include the opening in 1995 of Goat’s Eye Mountain, and the replacement of all lifts as well as the installation of a new, eight-passenger gondola. Sunshine has the newest fleet of lifts in the Canadian Rockies, with eight quads and the gondola. It also has Banff’s only on-mountain accommodation, the 84-room Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
All of these investments were done to improve the guest experience. Our goal is, has been, and will always be, to offer our guests a spectacular day on the slopes within one of the most majestic mountain settings on earth, and to do so in an environmentally sound manner.

The difficult dismissals in December were a necessary step in achieving the level of excellence we aspire to. Fortunately, we were able to hire outstanding replacements—people who truly have the guest experience at the forefront of their actions.

That is not the impression that has been created on the Internet. On Jan. 17, 2011, a few weeks after the dismissals, some members of the ski patrol staged a one-day illegal walkout, in which they called in sick. It was an attempt, according to one of the protestors, “to bring the resort to its knees.”

Thanks, in part, to the loyal ski patrollers who did report for duty that day, the resort was able to operate four of 12 lifts, but there is no question customers and on-duty employees suffered as a result of this illegal action. For example, food-and-beverage operations were scaled back and ski instructors lost income from paying customers.

The “sick” employees held a meeting at a nearby coffee shop, and invited local and national news media to cover their protest, and several gave interviews. Their stated objective was to raise concerns over working conditions and leadership immediately following the dismissals.

But the story was revised when the terminated employees started legal proceedings, claiming wrongful dismissal. They came out very aggressively with a set of unproven facts based on allegations involving the owner’s son—clearly a tactic designed to sway public opinion. In fact, the ex-employees’ legal statement of claim was fed to the media before it was given to Sunshine.

Since then, Sunshine has endured a constant, unjustified, and absolutely unfair Internet and social media battering, many from sympathizers for the ex-employees. The vicious attacks have been personal in nature, flung out to create emotional scars, not to reflect what really took place. Rumors are stated as fact, the truth is abused, and the effects are painful not only to ownership and Sunshine’s managers, but to all our employees, as well. For example, call center employees, who had nothing to do with the dismissals, have had to endure prolonged verbal abuse on our toll free 1-87-SKI-BANFF line.

Some of the most vicious mob attacks have been against Sunshine’s customers. So mean-spirited were the comments, all major Calgary media had to disable their comments links on their web sites because of the vitriol.

Let me give you an example. We received a phone call from the mother of one 12-year-old boy who had a great day at Sunshine (and who was unaware of any dispute) and posted a YouTube video of his day on Sunshine’s Facebook site. When he posted the video, anonymous individuals ridiculed him mercilessly, leaving him heartbroken, confused and in tears.

There are many similar examples, as emotion let the story spin out of control. Comments, blogs, and Internet stories came from thousands of miles away, written by people jumping on false rumors and not aware of the truth. Meanwhile, Sunshine was legally unable to tell its side of the story until its statement of defense was filed in Alberta court.

But where were the facts? Your own journalist wrote in Powder: “It’s worth noting that the Scurfields may well be getting the short end of the stick here. Maybe all the firings were justified, maybe there were damaging falsehoods on TGR.” Sunshine believes the full story will come out at trial.

Although there has been a great deal of misinformation, at Sunshine Village, our guidelines for responses are to stick to the facts, be respectful in replies and try not to get drawn into debates. We have done our best to turn the other cheek, but sometimes when the facts are so distorted, the misinformation so intolerant and personal, we ask for retractions or the removal of the offending falsehoods. Others, both people and companies, facing the same humbling experience would probably do the same.

Deciding how to react is often a very tough judgement. We do so with a focus on integrity and ethical behaviour—not with a goal to deny legitimate free speech.

By seeking a cease-and-desist order on the TGR material, we were accused of censorship. But anyone knows that the freedom of speech has never included the right to incite hatred. Libel and slander laws continue to exist in the Internet age. Those who spread hatred on the Internet behind an anonymous identity are no more defenders of free speech than vigilantes are defenders of civil rights.

Sunshine Village is a premier world-caliber ski resort. We became the best in the Canadian Rockies because of the experience we offer, from the mountains of natural snow to the scenery that leaves guests in awe. Our employees are integral to that success.

Doug Firby
Associate Director, Communications
Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort

Posted In: Opinion, Stories


Add a comment

  • Hagop

    Thats a pretty weak response. They havent actually countered any of the points in the powder article. Firby open’s his letter by talking about emotional responses, and then does his best to create one by bringing up the 12 year old boy and his video.

    It seems to me that if a patroller caught one of the Scurfields skiiing where he shouldn’t have been, and issued him a ticket, this is a provable fact, not a rumour. If the patroller then gets fired, and the management staff that stick up for him also get fired, there is a clear line that can be drawn between the two events.

    • Lynne Harrison

      I am aware of, and I have expressed my gratitude and deep thanks to Chevy and those whose names I was given who helped save Dave’s life that day. As I mentioned, this conflicted situation has been an emotional one for all residents of the Bow Valley, myself included.

  • Trevor Woods

    Calling BS on this one.

    If you’re going to write paragraphs and paragraphs talking about “unjustified” attacks and “misinformation, along with the importance of “the facts”, then how about shedding some light on the what “really happened” rather than sidestepping around the subject.

  • Jack Pollner

    I just think it’s sad that Sunshine would keep trying to clear it’s name.

    Regardless of the nature of your firings, it was the context that they arose in. All the employees had been with the resort for an extended period of time, and their release was only brought about after they rubbed certain people the wrong way.

    We don’t care that tese people were let go legally or illegally. We care about the principle of their release.

    I am sad to say that more and more I am seeing “principle” get tossed aside for “legality” in the ski industry. Just because you are “legal” about something, doesn’t mean it is “right”.

  • Eric Smith

    Funny how the issue of patrol drinking beer wasn’t brought up til the owners son was caught…. I am sure the patrol has had a beer fund for years, yet all of a sudden there is a problem? Your ski resort was on a list of 3 to visit next year, or the coming years, but our family has decided not to patronize a resort that treats hard working ski patrollers that way. You will not see a dime of our families money.

  • Dave

    This is what happens when gapers run a resort.

  • Chris Mueller

    Sunshine Village made its bed, now they are kicking and screaming because they have to sleep in it??

  • farley`

    Very well-written. However………just what are the facts?? We know what the ex-employees said and it sounds bad for SSV. Here was their chance to set the record straight, but they didn’t. Doug Firby did his best to skirt the real issue, so I’ll continue to believe that the patrollers were wrongly terminated.

  • dAN

    So, in complaining about the emotionally charged attacks, Sunshine tries to bring the debate back to rationality and the facts, and does so by trying to tug on the heart strings with a woeful tale of a 12 year old boy brought to tears by those vicious attackers? Give me a break.

    This is pure grade A damage control by an organization that doesn’t have a clue, but finally hired someone with a clue about web PR.

  • J.Pol

    If these employees needed to be dismissed so badly;

    Why weren’t they let go before the season started a month earlier?

    Why were they “dismissed” shortly after reprimanding Taylor Scurfield and friends?

    The only issue addressed here was that of some innocent 12 year old who was the unfortunate victim of the lynch mob mentality that was created by SSVs mishandling of the entire situation.

    This response is SSVs best attempt at playing the victim. I doubt anyone is buying it.

  • Kyle

    Good one Sunshine Village… no one believes you. Thanks for wasting my time reading that.

  • phil davis

    I have a great deal of experience, both working with and knowing ski patrol personnel at many ski resorts. I have also met and worked for ski area management, and been up close to the relationship between those departments. I have a very strong gut feeling here, about who to believe. I understand fully, those staff who support management. You always do your best to support the people who sign your paycheck, and in ski areas in particular, your job often is connected to your place of residence, so it’s their way or the highway for the staff.
    Thank you for telling both sides of the story. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court.

  • Pamcake

    Hey, Sunshine… Have Ralph give me a call I’ll tell him exactly what I think of Sunshine Village, their hiring policies and other tidbits that are on my mind! I’m not afraid to come out form behind the internet and tell you my opinion the question is can you handle it? Or will you run and hide in a feable attempt to blow off my comments and concerns…. I’ll tell you like it is!

  • K warner

    Had the young Mr. Scurfield and friends not been caught skiing out of bounds, how long would it have taken SSV to initiate the four so called “just” terminations?. I await a judges decision on this case.

  • Holly Cadieux

    I find it interesting on a couple of points.First Firby’s comment that people are reacting emotionally and not rationally, I find that comment completely disrespectful to the intellegence of the persons opinions that have reacted to this situation. We can all read and form opinions based on fact.
    Secondly, I still find it interesting that SSV had let the employees go to enforce the alcohol policy. I wonder ,had there ever been anything done to enforce the policy in the past or was it accepted behavior therefore setting accepted precident?? Were these alleged infractions only made by the employees that were let go? Or would you have to replace the entire staff and management on the hill ? To say that SSV is the “most popular resort in the rockies” …aren’t we full of our selves, just a little bit?? I have skied most of the resorts in the rockies and I beg to differ,SSV is far from the best. And that opinion Mr. Firby was formed all on my own a year before any of this situation occured. I spend alot of money and time at some of the best facilities in the Rockies to give my children the best ski experience possible ,we live in Manitoba and we make several trips a year to the mountains,ski every day,stay in the resorts and observe how staff interact with the guests. And to say SSV is the best, I do not agree.
    Also you made reference to the Senior Scurfield Sr. and his untimely death. The original issue was when young Scurfield was skiing in a closed area. The patrollers that called him on it that were working at the resort for a considerable time and then all of a sudden they are let go for confronting the young man ,for potentially saving him from the same fate as his Grandfather.Instead of the family and management saying good job they cite them for not following policy! They get their nickers in a knot and these patrollers are relieved of duty,and you expect people not to react ??
    Mr Firby , in my profession I have to deal with looking at the rational and evidence based fact of situations,I do not react on emotion,I do not get caught up in unfounded negative comments,I look at the evidence and what I know from my own experience. That being said you would be correct to assume I will not return to SSV basically because of your attitude and the assumption that SSV is being “made out” to be the bad guy with out cause. SSV needs to man up, you did not deal with the situation professionally,you got your back up to cater to the young man that caused this situation and there was no accountability on his part in any of this or for skiing in a closed area. You just need to accept , we as consumers do have a choice and we choose not to ski SSV!

  • Bette

    I have vaguely followed this story online. It’s got all the makings of a juicy tale: nepotism, wrongful-dimissals, an underdog and a capatalist, hurt feelings, and accusations are flying from all directions.

    The writer says that Sunshine is committed to sticking to the facts rather than silly emotional reponses. But his letter also cites the example of a young boy who’s feeling were hurt because of comments on his YouTube video. Advice to the writer on effective use of rhetorical devices: pathos is a powerful tool but when you use ham-handedly it you risk losing your audience’s respect and attention. Also, don’t say you’re not going to use emotions and then weave them in willy-nilly.

    Sunshine Village has not lost my business since it never had it in the first place. I prefer to tavel south for my skiing and will occationally go to Louise.

  • Brian Dodge

    Since then, Sunshine has endured a constant, unjustified, and absolutely unfair Internet and social media battering, many from sympathizers for the ex-employees

    waaaaah. What a bunch of cry babies. I will make sure to spread the word to stay away from this resort.

  • Brendan Gee

    Instead of learning from this mistake, apologizing and moving on as any business person in their right mind or with a shred of respect for their customers and employees would have done, big bad doug firby continues his losing smear campaign against the victims of this crime.

    Seriously pathetic… I’ve organized trips to the area for years for many people and this past year we skipped sunshine and will continue to do so till they settle this suit, apologize to the employees and apologize to their customers for the juvenile manner in which they have behaved. Mr. Firby, you can kiss our money goodbye, that’s what you want from us after all isn’t it?

    The SLAPP suits they have threatened are ridiculous and despite Mr. firby’s assertion that this tactic is legal it is not, and more importantly it is not ethical and goes against the basic democratic principles that both Canada and the US were founded on. (Typical Conservative/republican, use their money to change the message and keep dissenting voices out of their way)

    Real skiers know the real story and will continue to spread it. I talk to a lot of tourists on a lot of chairlifts and I can tell you they will not be directed towards the cluster of poor management that is Sunshine Village till this matter is cleared up and your employees receive proper compensation and a personal apology from Firby, the Scurfield family and Thomas Taylor Scurfield directly.

    Till that happens, we the REAL skiers will continue to spread the bad word on sunshine. You can’t file a SLAPP suit against our mouths on a chairlift…

  • Michael Tasevski

    Well thanks Firby you really cleared everything up with this one….

  • Tyler

    I agree that the thread on TGR did get a little vitriolic, but threads on there usually do. However, SSV also delivered a C&D to Epic Ski in which the language and tone was much less hostile. I personally was named in the C&D letter for a post I made where in I simply quoted one of the dismissed patrol staff. The patrol member was providing his side of the story and what he said that Taylor Scrufield stated. They claimed that I was taking the quote out of context and used that as an argument for getting the thread removed. That is quite certainly censorship of free speech because it is not slander or libel when you are quoting an eye-witnesses account of the actions. Now it potentially could be should it come out that said witness was lying, but until the court decides otherwise taking down information from valid sources is censorship.

  • Dave

    If the resort did nothing wrong, all you would need is a paragraph to prove that what you did was in the right. That being said, gapers shouldn’t be allowed to run mountains.

  •!/john_d_mcdonald John M

    Hey Doug, I’ve got news for you … all videos on YouTube are ridiculed mercilessly. Seriously? This is the best that they can muster for a response? … “Hey everyone, cut it out. We’re getting emotional scars here”

    As a former local, I find this whole situation really disappointing. In fact, I’m feeling kind of hurt. *sniff*

  • Who Cares

    I’m not entirely sure why this is such a big deal. They are patrollers. They come with the price of the lift ticket. They do not rescue you out of the goodness of their hearts. Instead they are doing their job. Wrongful dismissal at any level is a bad thing, but then again so is the unjustified righteousness of being a “local” – ie a chip on the shoulder borne in years of underperformance, watching the world pass one by. It’s I’m sure hard to watch successful people sail into resorts, either buying the resort itself, or all of its property, while telling oneself that being a ski bum really was the right path. This attitude gets worse over time until someone intelligent takes the risk of the inevitable cull – only to face the wrath of legions of losers on comments sections such as this one. Give it up guys as there are no winners in a game of losers. Oh and by the way I’m a much better skier than most of you, an irrelevant fact that has gravitas when you don’t have much else.

    • J.Pol

      Hahahahaha… I don’t even know where to start with this one. You must be a sponsored skier, since you are better than most everyone here. I wonder what ski vids you have been in? Or maybe your daddy owns a resort in the Canadian Rockies? Sounds like you are just a little punk trying to sound like a badass.

    • farley`

      You’re wrong. There are those of us who have had sucessful careers, made enough money to retire to a ski resort, and are proud to call ourselves “ski bums”. We support patrollers because they make the mountain safe, rescue us if we are hurt, and are real skiers. Skiers support other skiers. It is a big deal, even though I live at a resort far from SSV. You of course are probably one of the “weekend warriors” who lord it over the locals and really can’t ski.

  • Mike Sexton

    It’s amazing that SSV is still trying to spin even though the majority of the facts are already public knowledge.

    As SSV passholder for the last 9 years (incuding the 10/11 season) I opted not to use my pass after the information became public and took advantage of the discounted tickets being offered by LL.

    One think you can be certain of, Mr. Firby: I’ll express my opinions with dollars and will never own a SSV pass agan, not will I ever purchase a lift ticket or patronize any establishment controlled by SSV.

    You can try to silence the voices, but you can’t make anyone come to SSV. I sincerely hope the callous actions of SSV ownership & managment are clearly reflected as lost revenue in your financials.

    And, please… continue on the same path of damage control as I feel that it will only continue to alienate past & future customers and ensure that SSV feels the finacial consequences of their actions.

  • Doug

    Watch this space….. More allegations against Sunshine Village flouting employment laws are on the way. This is by far not an isolated incident but just the first time someone has stood up to them.

  • Mike B

    You would think that the Associate Director of Communications at the ‘best resort in the Canadian Rockies” would have a better hold of the english language. I can’t believe someone with “director” in their title would offer such a poorly written response with so many grammatical errors. Just goes to show you what dumbasses run sunshine village.

    • Mark Stansfield

      Dear Sirs:

      After reading the articles, both in your magazine and online about the Sunshine-Patroller situation, I thought I might weigh in with an observation. I am an ex-patroller from the states, who is also a lawyer, although I no longer practice law.

      I have skiied Sunshine, and have met and know the former patrol director, as well as the Sunshine management. In all situations like this emotions and feelings run high. That is normal. What is not normal is trying your case in the media, which the terminated patrollers have done. That is considered “bush league” down here, which is the nicest thing that can be said about it.

      Second, having a “strike” under the guise of a sickout, is also “bush league.”

      Third, I don’t know what the standard is in Alberta, but most states and provinces are “at will” with regard to employment. Stated succinctly, that means an employee can be terminated for any reason, with or without cause, barring an employment contract, civil service protections etc.

      Fourth, the proper forum for such disagreements are the courts. Let the rhetoric flow there, not on blogs or other anonymous means of communication.

      In short, that’s my take on the situation. Thank you. Mark

  • Steve Shaw

    Wow. Just wow.

    This man is a disgrace to the public relations profession. Pretty low to stoop, pulling the old “let’s tug their heart strings” with the crying 12 year old comment. This man has no future in PR, but he’d make a hell of a politician.

    I was an avid sunshine skiier for years, but will not be back. I don’t even care who’s right or wrong at this point; the way that Sunshine has conducted themselves and responded to this whole incident is beyond questionable. I’d rather give some other rich asshole my money than this one. What a prick.

    Maybe I should delete that last comment…. wouldn’t want to get sued.

  • Morgan

    Wow, with how long it took them to come up with a public response to this situation, I would have expected better. “Deciding how to react is often a very tough judgement,” so tough that they didn’t react at all, until it was too late. Don’t they realize that they’ve already lost the battle in the hearts and minds of so many skiers already? Supposing they win the case in court and sue the patrollers into oblivion, do they really think that’s going to win back any support? I doubt it.

  • JDM

    I like how the overall theme is that this is an emotionally charged issue and we need to just calm the hell down and look at things objectively, stick to the facts. Oh, except for using loaded language like “illegal” job action, re-framing the victims as ski instructors who lost money and call center employees being harassed, trying to cast the Scurfields as some unassuming local family running a mom-and-pop hill, and giving us a heart-rending tale about a 12 year old being jeered on the internet. Mr. Firby, that was transparent, pathetic, and if you had any credibility or respect to begin with that would have diminished it significantly.

    Moreover, why are you doing this during the OFFSEASON?! This would be the perfect opportunity to let this die while people are thinking about things besides skiing. You’re in a deep freakin’ hole. Stop digging.

  • alfred

    Lets review;

    Mountain manger – fired
    Snow safety supervisor – fired
    Lift supervisor – fired
    Patrol supervisor – fired
    Radio Dispatcher – quit
    Senior cat driver/snow making supervisor – quit
    Security supervisor – quit
    Initial patroller who caught Scurfiled son in closed area – laid off ( mind you SSV was advertising for patrollers during the same week. )
    Employee safety supervisor – quit
    Hotel manager – quit
    Senior snow safety staff who was ‘media spokesman” during patroller walk out- fired
    Senior patroller who was also a ‘media spokesman’ during patroll walk out – fired

    It will be interesting how many staff will retunr this fall….

  • Observer

    Doug Firby’s professional mentor and role model on video…

  • George

    Doesn’t sound like a safe place to ski right now. Can’t wait to ski there under new ownership and management.

  • Quantguy

    “But anyone knows that the freedom of speech has never included the right to incite hatred. Libel and slander laws continue to exist in the Internet age.”

    Mr. Firby,

    Sorry, but citing the truth does not fall under the definition of “libel” or “slander.” I’ll ski elsewhere.

  • John@CdnRockies

    I’ve been a Calgary-based “8 mountain” and “3 mountain” season pass holder (includes Sunshine) for many years. I travel frequently and this past year have voiced my concerns on Sunshine’s attitude with fellow travellers most of whom are coming for the snow experience (particularly on the Calgary/Manchester fights). It is clear that Sunshine does not deserve our custom (I never skied there even once this year).

    What a contrast with Lake Louise where I recall Charlie Locke backing up his ski patrollers when they censured Alberto Tomba for dangerous skiing among the public! Mr. Firby, you and the management team have much to learn about leadership and customer respect. I will ski anywhere but SS and will continue to spread the word about your safety practices.

  • Wes

    “But anyone knows that the freedom of speech has never included the right to incite hatred.”

    I’m pretty sure freedom of speech means just that, the freedom to say whatever you want. If people who protest at the funerals of American soldiers are protected by freedom of speech then I think we have the right to hate on these @$$hats.

  • tom winter

    Doug, was or was not a member of the Scurfield family illegally skiing in a closed area? If so, what the hell was he thinking?

    Could you please explain this to me as you don’t address this issue at all in your response.

    If resort ownership had a good working relationship with resort staff, couldn’t they (ownership) head into closed areas with members of the patrol to “check out the snow”? This is what would have happened at many other family owned resorts. I know this for a fact, I’ve written about them:

    At best, the person who initiated this sad story (the Scurfield kid) is guilty of a huge error in judgment. At worst, his disregard of the closure and associated safety issues at a resort his family owned is indicative of a certain type of arrogance and attitude that can be directly traced back to his upbringing. Kids are taught to do both the right and wrong things by their parents. Most kids who love to ski would feel blessed and humbled to growing up in a resort environment. Members of the Blake family in Taos come to mind, as does Ethan Mueller, who started his career in the industry by clearing lunch trays from the tables of Okemo, a resort his parent’s owned. How many tables did the Scurfield kid bus last winter?

    Regardless, I’m glad that Powder provided you a forum to respond and I, along with many other industry insiders will be watching the court case closely. And, fortunately for all involved, the passage of time will eventually ensure that this story is confined to the dustbin of history and we can all get back to dreaming about powder days.

  • from afar

    “In fact, the ex-employees’ legal statement of claim was fed to the media before it was given to Sunshine.”

    The Statement of Claim was “filed” January 26, 2011 and “entered” January 27. Thus, on January 27, the Statement was available to anyone who cared, and was willing to pay a processing fee. I suspect that reporters routinely troll the Courthouse looking for meat. On January 28, “Metro” published a short factual account of the filing and even quoted Mr. Firby. Other newspapers quickly followed. No one offered “opinions”.

    On the other hand..
    SSV filed their Statement of Defense at 4:30 PM on March 3 and it was made available to the public on March 4. Early on March 5 (Saturday), the Calgary Herald (the major newspaper) published a ½ page article on page 3. It was written by Licia Corbella, Editorial Page Editor. The first sentence is: “After two months of silence, the owners of Sunshine Village are finally speaking out to counter a veritable avalanche of unanswered allegations and vicious smears contained in the statement of claim and levelled against the mountain’s owners — the Scurfield family.”
    What “vicious smears” are contained in the Statement of Claim; a very legal and properly worded document?

    Also included with the article was an inflammatory photograph that could only have come from SSV. How could that have happened? Comments, Mr. Firby

  • Fomer Employee

    I used to work there. It used to be a great place to work and play. Not anymore. What Ralph, John and Ken have done has tarnished their supposed ‘world class’ class resort image they try and portray.

    When will the Scurfields admit their wrong doings and make things right? Probably never. Disappointing. Sunshine just wants to point the finger at everyone but themselves. I can’t believe that your mass exodus of great employees that have left since the firings has not woken you up to the fact that you were wrong and continue to be wrong. You are going to lose more great staff.

    I am now ashamed of the place I used to work and play.

  • CCotton

    It is interesting how people like to make slanderous comments yet do so cowardly by hiding behind fake names or no names at all. The Scurfields have built a great world-calibre resort by looking after people, not by attacking them like those who now cast stones. The Scurfields have passionately worked to improve their resort even when faced with a former Canadian Minister of Heritage who did her upmost to destroy skiing in the Canadian Rickies, not foster it. Some former people at Sunshine preferred their culture of entitlement over improving the guest experience, which to this day is really exceptional. Instead of listening to falsehoods presented as fact and embellished bull falsely positions as the truth, some see for yourself next winter. Amidst some of the most spectacular scenery on earth, you will have a wonderfull experience that creates goosebump moments. And the quality of the staff will leave you smiling. Judge for yourself. I have and there is no doubt that the Scurfields will always act in the best interests of Sunhine Village guests.

    • Banff Local


      Let me get this right – are you really trying to suggest that Chris Chevalier and Rowan Harper – the guys that led the opening of Delirium Dive and Goatseye big terrain and who served the company for the best part of 3 decades did not improve the guest experience? Are you crazy?

      The “culture of entitlement” appears to come from the kid who was not even born when Chev and Rowan started working there – who thinks he can tour guide his friends in closed terrain.

  • Monica Johnson

    I have skied Sunshine Village for years and also made trips all over the world to ski. The Sunshine experience is a fabulous one. The view are spectacular and the slopes are uncrowded. Great all natural snow and wonderful staff. A few bad eggs who have a personal axe to grind should not be allowed to tarnish what the Scurfield family has accomplished over 30 years. Their’s is a great resort, and they people in a quality product. It is time for those bad eggs to move on although I suspect theu will continue to be jerks bent on hurting others. Sunshine is a place when you can arrive grumpy and leave totallu grateful. It is a wonderfull alpine experience.

  • Dan Lunt

    Mark Stansfield,

    There are some VERY good reasons for trying a case in the media. The courts do not always deliver justice, and it is in the best interests of the collective to know what is going on. Just because a case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, does not mean it should be kept out of the media. The public has a right to know what is going on. For insatnce, I have a right to judge OJ SImpson, even though the courts found him not guilty.

    About the at will thing: Just because resorts have the right to fire at will employees, does not mean they are justified in doing so. I am an office bound yuppie who skis 40 days a year, not a ski bum, and I like to know how my mountain is treating it’s employees. If they dismiss employees unjustly, even if they are legally allowed to do so, I want to know, so that I can vote with my dollars.

    Just because an entity has a legal right to there actions, does not mean those actions are justified. The media is an important part of the system of checks and balances. Even if SSV wins in court, the public has a right to know what they have done. The public has right to decide what is ethical, and vote with their dollars.

    This is not the Duke Lacrosse case. Having said that, if it comes out that SSV really did not do anyting wrong, I will be the first to apologize. Firing employees(allegedly) because of swinsuit calendars and workplace beer(common in the ski school locker when I was an instructor) reeks of trumped out charges. As I said before, just because a resort CAN technically fire someone, does not mean they are justifiied in it.

    A professional athlete has the right to refuse autographs to children. The public has a right to know about this behavior, even if it is perfectly legal. Catch my drift?

  • Bette

    CCotton: You chose an interesting phrase: “goosebump moments” is Travel Alberta’s new tagline.

  • Kirk Shaw

    Well the one time I visited Sunshine I was less than impressed run down bathrooms reeking of sweat and the stench of urine, hey I now people are exercising but get real. I spent 8 years living and working in Whistler and I am sorry but Sunshine cannot hold a candle to Whistler /Blackcomb.If I head west I stay in the rig and go to Kicking Horse amazing facilities no line-ups and best of all parking at the lift. Staying in Alberta Castle mountain is super low key fantastic terrain and very reminiscent of the family run atmosphere of Mount Baker (God bless the Howatt clan).In short losing that amount of experienced staff in one of the worst avalanche season in recent history shows that the Scurfields are more concerned with being right than having any concern for the public’s safety.

  • Calgary Skier

    Hard to judge which side has manufactured the most spin. That said, I think SSV has the most to lose and should think about damage control. I’m going to LL until I hear the results of the court case, from the judge.

  • Lynne Harrison

    As a member of the Bow Valley community, it has been troubling to watch the conflict surrounding the emotionally charged situation concerning the Sunshine Village ski patrol.

    Without knowing all the facts, I can only comment on my personal experience in respect of the support that the Resort has shown the brain injured community. Sunshine Village has been extremely welcoming to, and generous with, acquired brain injury survivors, and other individuals with disabilities.

    This support has been particularly evident in the context of the annual Dave Irwin
    Foundation Dash for Cash event at Sunshine.

  • Banff Local

    That’s great Lynne. Some of the staff who were fired last December and January by Sunshine Village are the guys who actually saved Dave Irwin’s life that day.

  • Lynne Harrison

    I am aware of, and have thanked Chevy and those whose names I was given who were at Sunshine Village on March 23, 2001 and who helped save Dave’s life. As I mentioned in my previous comment, this emotionally charged situation has been concerning to many Bow Valley residents, myself included.

  • Ski Tip

    To avoid head injuries stay out of closed areas.

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