Not Under The Pine Press - March 2013
A blanket of snow covering trees, roads, building, is a sight many of us Canadians take for granted. But, it is a sight most southern Californians have never witnessed before. That may explain the surprising demand for Canadian snow, which they are consuming by the ton - in the form of snow cones.
A small company, The SNOW Cone Cart, located in Oxnard, CA (near the sprawling city of L.A.), selling snow cones has recently started using snow in its product instead of the traditional shaved ice. The snow supplier they have subcontracted out to is a Canadian firm located in British Columbia. Owner and operator Carl Mendez believes this 'imported snow' gives him an advantage in the highly competitive snow cone market and he may be right. Since launching the 'Real SNOW cone', as he dubbed it, his sales have sky rocketed, so much so that he is planning an expansion into new markets and is even looking into a franchising option. Even considering the higher price of the snow cones, due to the increased shipping costs and storage of the snow, Mendez can barely keep up with the demand.
Could this be the start of a new market for one of Canada's least used natural resources?
A comment from the Ministry of Economic Development thinks so. Spokesman Irving Irvine commented, "according to the preliminary numbers, we could be on the forefront of millions of dollars worth of snow being exported down south...one day we could be looking at adding twenty to thirty thousand good paying jobs in BC alone." Currently snow cone exports account for under $10,000 in trade.
Interest in the business community is also ramping up with one local entrepreneur starting the legal process of legalizing claims on snow located on crown land, similar to logging or mining claims. This request is currently pending in the provincial courts, but, is expected to be ruled on in the next few weeks.
On the environmental front a group of young environmentalists calling themselves AARS (Alliance Against Removing Snow) have started an online petition calling for the ban on extracting and exporting snow. As of today they had just over one hundred thousand signatures. Other environmental groups (WWF, Coalition of the Environment, Treehuggers, Naturalists of BC) have voiced concerns over what they are viewing as another environmental scar caused by business. One tweet from the NOBC was trending high last week and has really brought the topic to the forefront, "I understand the logging industry replanting the trees they harvest, but, what are they going to do about the snow they take? You can't replant snow!"
This seemingly insignificant decision to use a scoop of real snow on a snow cone is already causing waves throughout many levels of Canadian society. Is this going to be another oil sands debate, pitting Canadians against one another?