We were having drinks last night with good friends and the topic of the “future of the Wasatch” came up. We made the comment that growth may be a moot point due to weather. We cited Utah Atmospheric Professor Jim Steenburgh and his opinion that warmer temperatures are on the way, cross country skiing is going to be tough around here, and Park City Mountains will still have snow… but generally at higher elevations.
One of our friends said, “yeah… but there was weather like this in the 1970’s.” His point was just because there is a lack of snow this year doesn’t mean the future is lost. And just in case you were wondering… our friend isn’t Ted Cruz. He makes a good point, though.
How do we as a community (or individuals) decide whether our climate is really changing. Will it take 5 years of low snow? Will it take 10 years? What if we have 1 good year in 10? What if there is 6 good years in 10?
Ultimately we’re not sure. However, we do know that it’s perhaps the most important question we should be asking. If there is less snow, our resorts would suffer. It isn’t unimaginable to expect that fewer people would come here. Would a resort close in Park City? Right now that’s hard to imagine… but Deer Valley selling to Vail in 10 years isn’t impossible to contemplate… or perhaps the other way around.
The question is important because it drives almost everything we do. Should we build a train to Park City.? Should we allow the Boyer Tech Park to be a second base to Canyons? How should we plan for growth? If there is less snow how does that impact the second home market (2/3 of homes in Park City and 1/3 of homes in the Basin)?
If Park City becomes purely a Sundance and Summer place for visitors and the rest belongs to locals, the things we focus on would be very different. Instead of focusing on transportation we may focus on dual immersion for our kids. Instead of focusing on limiting growth, we may focus on actual affordable housing. We don’t know exactly how it would be different but we do know the problems we are trying to triage today will be completely different.
It’s just something we were left thinking about today… after a good conversation last night.