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Snow way! Homegrown company bringing skiing, snowboarding to hill-less Sarnia

Tara Jeffrey The move to bring winter action sports to Sarnia was a no-brainer for the Boarder Pass crew.
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Tim Nixon, left, and David Ouellette of Boarder Pass watch a snow-making machine begin the creation of a skiing and snowboard park at Lambton College. Glenn Ogilvie

Tara Jeffrey

The move to bring winter action sports to Sarnia was a no-brainer for the Boarder Pass crew.

“It seemed like such a natural transition,” said Tim Nixon, co-owner of the homegrown company that has brought wakeboard and wake skate cable parks to three Ontario cities, and counting.

“There’s not a whole lot going on in Sarnia in the winter time, and we wanted to come up with a way to get people involved in winter sports at an affordable level in their own backyard.”

So his team, including manager Dave Ouellette and co-owner Chris Smith, joined forces with Lambton College to launch the BP Snow Park Project -- an outdoor cable system for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.

“We’re the first to bring the concept to a college, and the first in Ontario,” said Nixon.

Using existing Boarder Pass wakeboarding cable systems and infrastructure, the pilot project will cater to users of all levels, Nixon said. Instructors will be able to walk alongside beginners, while rails and jumps will be set up for advanced riders, traveling up to 34 km/hr.

The system will be located at the college’s east-end soccer field, near the RBC Centre.

“We wouldn’t even be able to do this without the support of Lambton College,” said Nixon, who pitched the idea to officials earlier this year. He’s hoping the park will be a big draw for students, and has enlisted the carpentry program to help build an enclosure for visitors to keep warm and watch the action. A concession and retail area will also be on site.

A $5,000 donation from the local carpenters union, and use of Snow fest’s snow making machine has also been a huge boost, Nixon said.

“We’re really breaking new ground. Our main goal this year is to get the proof of concept, so we can bring the system to more communities across the country.”

Boarder Pass is the brainchild of Nixon and co-owner Chris Smith, who launched Ontario’s first straight-line cable system for wake boarders and wake skaters in Sarnia Bay, back in 2010. The team has since launched parks in Niagara and Hamilton, and will return to the Toronto International Boat Show this month to showcase their groundbreaking system.

“This whole company was built from our passion for the sport,” said Nixon. “And we’re getting a lot of buzz for this project, which is great.”

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