Gatineau Park user urging NCC to refund ski passes

·2 min read

An Ottawa woman says the National Capital Commission (NCC) should offer refunds to Gatineau Park pass holders in Ontario who are following public health advice and staying away from western Quebec.

Barrhaven resident Liette Philippe and her husband purchased season passes to cross-country ski on the sprawling park's trails, but have decided not to use them because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatineau Park and the surrounding region are within a red zone, Quebec's highest alert level.

Our funds are basically being held hostage by the NCC. - Liette Philippe

"I think the season is done," Philippe told CBC News on Monday. "I don't think they're ever going to lift [the restrictions]."

A winter pass to Gatineau Park, which can also be used to access designated snowshoeing trails, costs $172 if purchased by Nov. 23, and $200 after. Passes for snowshoeing and snow biking exclusively cost up to $60.

Philippe said when she inquired last week, she was told the NCC would consider refunds only at the end of the skiing season.

Both Ontario and Quebec recently introduced new guidelines in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials in Ontario have advised residents to leave the province only for essential travel, and have specifically said recreational activities such as skiing don't qualify.

Anyone who does cross the provincial border is advised to self-isolate for 14 days, though officials don't seem to be enforcing the recommendation.

NCC may offer credits

"Our funds are basically being held hostage by the NCC," Philippe said. "We can't use them to maybe join a ski club here."

The NCC said refunds aren't the only way to compensate pass holder, and said it will consider offering credits for next winter.

In an emailed statement, an NCC spokesperson suggested pass holders could still get their money's worth this season.

"It's also possible that the park users residing in Ontario will be able to practice their activities [for] as many days as [during] an average winter season, therefore getting use of their pass for the season," the spokesperson wrote.

Philippe said she and her husband just want to abide by current health recommendations.

"We want to be part of the solution, not the problem," she said.