Alberta ski resorts looking to start summer operations
CALGARY -- Ski resorts in the province have been closed since the middle of March but some are set to reopen for summer activities in the coming weeks.
Andre Quenneville, general manager of Mount Norquay, says mountain climbing guides will be taking four guests at a time on the Via Ferrata — a series of cables, foot and hand-holds embedded into the mountain — beginning June 12.
“It will hopefully keep us afloat till the fall so that we end up in the fall in a position where we’re ready to go,” said Quenneville.
“Then if restrictions are very strict, well then we’ll have to figure out a new plan at that point.”
Ski hill operators lost millions of dollars when the winter season was cut short by the pandemic.
Their challenge now is that they have no guidelines set out by provincial officials as of yet for the coming ski season. So for now, they’re using guidelines set out for other businesses in Alberta.
“Basically we did a walk-through of our business and going, ‘OK where’s there a point where people might think this is a little too tight, or I’m too close,’ so we made adjustments,” said Quenneville.
Lake Louise is also set to open its summer operations toward the end of June in a limited capacity, according to Dan Markham, brand and communications director.
“I’m not sure any of the resorts really are in a position to speculate what the world will look like next November,” said Markham in a written statement.
"Obviously we're hoping that the resort will open albeit in an altered way as will most businesses.”
Sunshine Village has made the decision to not open for the summer but rather focus on preparations for the ski season in November.
“So what we’re working on is a COVID best practice plan,” said Kendra Scurfield, director of brand and communications.
“We want to make sure we have all the tools to keep our resort as healthy as possible so that we can look after the community, our team members, our guests.”
Scurfield was sad to a see the 2020 season end so abruptly in March because the resort, like others in the mountain park, received above average snow falls. She says lift tickets for the 2020-21 season won’t be going up in price.
“We understand that a lot of Canadians, and Albertans especially, have been hit hard by the economy,” said Scurfield.
“Times are uncertain so what we really want to show solidarity and not increase any of our prices, we will be having price freezes on all of our lift products.”
The province says currently, any ski resorts would need to comply with the general guidance provided for businesses and outdoor organized sport, physical activity and recreation.
In a written statement officials add, “As several other activities could conceivably occur on a resort (restaurants), they would also need to comply with any other guidance that may be applicable.”
The province says it will look to develop more specific guidance.