B.C.'s Big White ski resort closing 1 week early on Easter Monday

·2 min read
The Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C., is closing a week early, after detecting a significant increase in demand from the Lower Mainland, despite health recommendations to curtail all non-essential travel. (Shutterstock / Tpt - image credit)
The Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C., is closing a week early, after detecting a significant increase in demand from the Lower Mainland, despite health recommendations to curtail all non-essential travel. (Shutterstock / Tpt - image credit)

The Big White ski resort is closing for the season on Easter Monday, a week earlier than scheduled, amid a surge in cases of COVID-19 and their variants across B.C., in particular an increase in the P1 variant first detected in Brazil, according to a news release from the resort's operator.

In its statement, Big White also pointed to increased traffic on its website and inquiries from people in the Lower Mainland around accommodation and the purchasing of online lift tickets for the last week of operation.

The announcement comes on the same day the owner of Charley Victoria's All Day Après, a restaurant located in the skiing community, apologized for hosting a rowdy party Monday night, hours after B.C. health officials curtailed indoor dining at B.C.'s restaurants and pubs

"With most B.C. resorts closing as of Monday, April 5, and with the disregard for COVID-19 protocols exhibited at Charley Victoria's All-Day Après on Monday evening, Big White Ski Resort Ltd recognized closing early as a necessary action to keep its guests, residents and team members safe from COVID-19," said Big White in its statement.

Earlier Wednesday, the owner of Charley Victoria's issued an apology for his "ignorant decision" to host a party at the restaurant on Monday. Video from the party showed crowds of young people dancing and partying on tables, flouting provincewide restrictions on indoor gatherings.

Health travel advisories ignored

Michael J. Ballingall, the resort's senior vice-president, said it was a tough decision.

"We promised our season pass holders that we would be open until April 11, but that promise was made back in June when the COVID-19 was a completely different story back then," Ballingall said. "We just didn't want Big White to be the magnet for everybody to come to, and obviously, there are people that aren't listening to the travel advisories."

Ballingall said Big White decided not to close on Good Friday because most of its guests staying in the resort this weekend are from within the Okanagan region.

"Ninety percent of the people in the resort will be from the local area, and we owe it to them to stay open so they can enjoy Easter," Ballingall said.

The Big White community was hit by a large cluster of COVID-19 cases late last year. More than 230 people were infected, with many of the cases linked to social gatherings and staff sharing living spaces.

On Wednesday, Revelstoke Mountain said it was also closing because of a staff shortage related to COVID-19. In a statement, the mountain said access to the resort is prohibited while the mountain is not in operation.