Ski hills hope for rebound from last year's lacklustre season

Courtney Symons
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With $400,000 in upgrades since last ski season, the owner of Mont Cascades says its trails are poised to see around 110,000 to 130,000 visitors this winter.

(Photo courtesy of Calabogie Peaks Resort)

Rick Hunter, who is also president of ProSlide Technologies Inc., says depending on the weather, the ski hill in Cantley, Que. will open in early or mid-December.

That could be a full month later than Camp Fortune in Chelsea, Que. which opened on Nov. 11 – it’s earliest opening date in a decade – with $250,000 worth of upgrades to its snowmaking system, allowing it to produce 50 per cent more snow. That system allowed for the maintenance of one strip of snow surrounded by grass for its opening day.

Mont Cascades, on the other hand, will wait until it can open all of its trails at once.

“You can always try to open early with half a hill, but it’s not worth it,” said Mr. Hunter. “It’s not substantial.”

The winter resort also includes a water park that opens in the summertime, which saw a successful season, Mr. Hunter said.

The facility has plans for significant growth, details of which will be released in about a year, according to Mr. Hunter.

“It will dominate the whole region,” he said, without offering any other details about the expansion plans.

Mont Cascade’s $400,000 in upgrades was used to expand its snowmaking capabilities, update the ski lodge and purchase a new snow groomer to maintain the trails.

Currently, Mont Cascades is the fifth largest ski hill in the region with a vertical drop of 165 metres and 20 trails total. It’s right behind Camp Fortune, which sits at number four with a peak height of 180 metres and 23 trails.

Last year’s ski season was lacklustre in the region, with later-than-average opening days and unseasonably warm weather that caused smaller hills to close earlier than usual.

The unreliable weather patterns of late have caused many ski hills to invest in snowmaking capabilities in order to be less reliant on Mother Nature.

Organizations: ProSlide Technologies

Geographic location: Mont Cascades, Cantley, Chelsea

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