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Unseasonably warm weather challenges tourism operators & maple syrup producers

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Skiing without a winter jacket is rare for the first week of March, but that was the case Monday at Horseshoe Resort, and while the mild temperatures may be sweet on the slopes, tourism operators may be feeling a bit bitter.

Staff at the ski resort in Barrie had to cancel events this past weekend due to the warmer weather.

"We had a couple of NorAm events, North American Championship in freestyle skiing and snowboarding, and it's basically an Olympic-sized jump we would have to build for that, and so unfortunately, we had to cancel that event," said Horseshoe Resort general manager Jonathan Reid.

Reid said this has been one of the warmest winters they have ever seen, adding they expect the season to be cut short.

"It's been very challenging where the windows to make snow have been a lot shorter. Typically, we finish snowmaking in January, and we've been making snow right through into the end of February now," he explained.

The ski resort will be open through March Break, the resort confirmed.

Meanwhile, it hasn't been any easier for maple syrup producers.

Peter Lorriman, who owns Windlee Farms, said this is one of the most challenging years they've ever had.

"Two years ago, our taps were like six, seven feet high. This year, they're right at three feet. It's sort of weird tapping without snow and cold weather, and what really worries me is we're not getting the cold nights," said Lorriman.

Lorriman noted the constantly changing temperatures have severely impacted the amount of sap they were able to produce, which has also created financial implications.

"I was looking at records yesterday, and we were boiling until April 3 last year," he said.

But as frustrating as the season has been, Lorriman said he's already starting to prepare for next year.

"You always got to think ahead, and you can't do anything about this season, so you just gotta think about next season," he said.

Windlee Farms hopes to push operations into April or until the sap goes bad.

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