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Coastal ski resort closures bad news for local hills

Cypress Mountain had to close down early this year due to warm weather and lack of snow.
Image Credit: onthesnow.ca
February 12, 2015 - 7:28 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – With warm weather shutting down ski hills in the Lower Mainland and Washington state, hills in the Thompson-Okanagan are busier than they’ve been in ten years. But it’s not all good news.

Spokespeople for all three major ski destinations in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops said that although business is up in the short term, the closures are bad for the industry as a whole.

Big White vice president Michael J. Ballingall says fewer people skiing means all hills run the risk of losing customers to other pastimes.

“With Hemlock closing, Washington closing, Grouse, Seymour and Cyprus closed, bad snow at Whistler, there are a lot of people who aren’t skiing,” he says. “They’ll find something else to do. You hope they don’t fall in love with that and fall out of love with skiing or snowboarding. In the long term it’s very, very bad. It will have a devastating effect on the industry.”

In the short term however, numbers are already way up across the Thompson-Okanagan. Big White, Sun Peaks and Silver Star all saw big numbers for the B.C. Family Day weekend and skiers are being encouraged to book accommodations as far ahead as possible.

“The locals are finding that they can’t phone up Thursday to book a suite for the weekend because everything’s booked,” Ballingall says. “Christmas, spring break, U.S. Presidents week, those will all be sold out where they haven’t been for years. We’re back to numbers we saw in 2004 and 2005 so we’re very encouraged about that.”

Sun Peaks tourism president Christopher Nicolson says there is no doubt the Interior resorts are seeing increased traffic but agrees the bump is only short term.

“People are obviously looking to ski,” he says. “(but it’s) not a great thing for the industry. Our preference is for the industry to see all resorts open and doing well.”

On Tuesday Cypress Mountain posted on their Facebook page that they would be closing down operations until further notice due to a lack of snow. And earlier this week Grouse Mountain issued a plea to mother nature.

“You haven’t exactly lived up to the standards we have become used to so far,” the Facebook post reads. “By this point in the season, we’re usually dreaming of our next bluebird day instead of anxiously crossing our fingers waiting for the snow to arrive in abundance. We’re happy to do a snow dance, meditate, do a little self-reflection. Whatever you need us to do. Just give us back our winter. We know our passholders — and our staff — would certainly appreciate it.”

Credit: Peter Wojnar via Vimeo

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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