Ski hills must close amid province-wide lockdown
BARRIE, ONT. -- Ski hills across the region will have to close amid the province-wide lockdown on Saturday.
The news comes just days after most resorts opened for the season.
"This is 28 days in the middle of peak season. It will be a tough pill to swallow for the ski industry," said Jonathan Reid, Skyline Horseshoe Resort.
Kevin Nichol, president of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association (OSRA), was disappointed in the government's choice to close the slopes.
"Despite working with the Government of Ontario over the past several months, despite nearly 2,500 Ontarians sending letters through the Save Our Skiing campaign, and despite investing heavily into this year's season to keep Ontarians safe, the government has decided to shut down ski hills," Nichol stated in a release.
"While golf courses were supported by the Ontario Government, even during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, ski hills have been left behind. This has caused resorts to spend millions of dollars in anticipation of opening, just to be closed," Nichol said.
Reid said that while he's upset by the news, he understands the concern. "Obviously, this news is disappointing, but it's what needs to be done to keep everybody safe," he said.
"The biggest challenge is the chairlift lines, and also people coming out of different areas to come up to ski resorts," Reid added.
For Snow Valley Resort's general manager John Ball, the announcement was tough to take. "I'm feeling like we did in March, at the first round of pandemic closures."
Still, Ball said he plans to take the shutdown day by day. "I'm in the process of letting our customers know how this shutdown will affect Snow Valley."
The temporary halt to downhill skiing does not affect other outdoor activities like cross country skiing and snowshoeing, which can continue.
The provincial lockdown is in place until Jan. 23.
With files from CTV's Lexy Benedict