Members of the Elk Valley Snow Avalanche Workshop (EVSAW) Society pose in front of posters advertising the ISSW 2020 in Fernie. Photo Submitted

International Snow Science Workshop postponed to 2021

The international conference was set to come to Fernie in October 2020

At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say that tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors in our mountain valley. While thousands of people usually visit Fernie throughout the year, spending around $150 million in our community, these same visitors are now forced to stay away.

Event cancellations are being announced daily as the pandemic rages on and people realize they may not be allowed to gather as planned during the summer, and even fall months.

On April 9, organizers of what would have been one of Fernie’s largest events, the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW), made the difficult decision to postpone the event. If things had gone according to plan, the ISSW would have seen over 1,000 people from approximately 25 different countries come to Fernie in October.

Steve Kuijt, chair of the 2020 ISSW made a statement regarding the postponement of the large international event. He noted that the decision to postpone the event by one year was a difficult, but necessary one.

“While we are all disappointed by this development, we know it is the right thing to do at this time,” Kuijt said. “The health and safety of the conference delegates, our event volunteers, and our host community is our top priority. The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the uncertainty over its resolution leads us to take this decision. Additionally, we recognize that domestic and international travel restrictions will almost certainly affect the ability of many delegates to participate.”

The ISSW exists to bring leading snow researchers and practitioners together for a fruitful and enlightening exchange of knowledge. It focuses on current advances in snow and avalanche science and technologies, and merges research with the real life experience of snow sport practitioners. The event takes place every two years, with the host countries alternating between Canada, the United States and Europe.

Planning of the ISSW in Fernie has been ongoing for a couple of years now, after the organizing committee approved Fernie as the next host of the international event.

“Our commitment to the conference and its goals remain strong,” Kuijt added. “Our local organizing committee has shifted its focus to next year. We are confident that we will host a terrific event and help to shine an international spotlight on our hometown.”

The new conference dates are from October 3-8, 2021and further information on the ISSW can be found on their website at

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