Marble Mountain reopened to prevent loss of season passholders: minister

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Newfoundland and Labrador's tourism minister, Christopher Mitchelmore, says the decision to reopen Marble Mountain Ski Resort for Easter weekend was made to prevent the loss of season passholders in future years.

"If the hill is not open during ideal ski conditions then it will have negative consequences and so that needs to be considered," he said.

In addition to reopening, government also notified the majority of members on the Marble Mountain Development Corporation board that they would be let go and a new interim board would be appointed — something the former members blasted in a public interview.

During an interview on the St. John's Morning Show, Mitchelmore said the decision to reopen the hill for another weekend was made based mainly on the fact that season pass purchases dropped by five per cent this year.

He said after hearing from customers outraged that the hill was closing on April 2 — despite ideal snow conditions — his department concluded there was a risk of losing even more season passholders next year.

"We're listening to our season passholders," he said. "We're encouraging people to buy season passes and we want to ensure them that the ski hill will be open for a longer period of time."

Operational review to take place

Mitchelmore said the board members were let go because it was felt they weren't fulfilling their mandate to enhance business at Marble Mountain. He said comments from former chairperson, Bob Pike, were out of line.

"I'm very disappointed in the remarks of Mr. Pike, especially some of the personal remarks that he's made towards me," he said. "I find them unacceptable, unprofessional and I'm not going to engage in that public debate, but it is disappointing."

Mitchelmore said his department wants an operational review, and a new board appointed to look at how the resort can be weaned off $930,000 in annual government subsidies and made more self-sufficient.

Enhancing capacity, creating new revenue streams and looking at ways to attract more season passholders are all areas he would like to see a new board pursue.

"I would like to see that be the direction of the new board that's in place, because that is the mandate of the Marble Mountain Development Corporation."