Operators confident as Marble Mountain remains on track to open in new year

·3 min read
Operators confident as Marble Mountain remains on track to open in new year
Lindsay Bird/CBC
Lindsay Bird/CBC

The recent snowfall on Newfoundland's west coast is helping keep Marble Mountain on track for a Jan. 7 start to the season.

While the opening date is still weeks away, staff are working to deploy snow-making machines to help blanket the 240-acre resort.

Operations manager Richard Wells told CBC News there's a lot of work to be done, and while some extra snow leading into the new year would help, he doesn't foresee any issues hitting the Jan. 7 mark.

"Mother Nature definitely still needs to provide a little bit more support, but the recent snowfall allowed us to get a lot of our infrastructure out onto the mountain," he said.

"We've got 17 snow guns, the bulk of which are actually older than me. Seventeen is not a lot by any means, so we've got to be very smart in our decision making in the snow making aspect of it, which is a science and an art in itself."

But Wells remains confident the business will be able to produce quality conditions on the mountain, despite a provincial government cut to the budget this year.

The province tabled about $700,000 in its budget for the Crown corporation that operates the business. In total $306,400 will be used for "operational repairs and maintenance funding for the Marble Mountain Development Corporation," and $400,000 will be used to purchase or replace infrastructure.

How will Marble Mountain work this season? Here's a sneak peek:

"Obviously we're all going through a pandemic and cost saving is very important for every business now. We didn't incur the same budget that we have in recent years but that's not to say that we still won't put forward a great product. Most people won't know the difference," he said.

"Perhaps the snowmaking won't go as long or as heavy and won't focus so much on the terrain parks, for example ... not to say we're not going to have it, but some of those services are slightly reduced."

Atlantic bubble bump

As it stands, Newfoundland and Labrador will not be rejoining the Atlantic Bubble until at least the new year — first announced by Premier Andrew Furey at a COVID-19 briefing earlier this month.

But that could work out just fine for the ski resort.

Wells said if the province remains out of the bubble into the winter, the effects could be similar to what was witnessed over the summer, with outdoor businesses selling out mountain bikes as people embraced outdoor activities.

"You could not buy, across Canada even, a mountain bike because families were out enjoying what they're able to do," he said.

"We foresee the same thing with skiing this year. We've been getting a lot of inquiries, pass sales are right on par where they need to be."

Still, Wells said the business is looking forward to the extra customers, if and when the province does rejoin the bubble.

"We do foresee Marble Mountain being at or near capacity. We know that we're the best ski hill, or one of the best ski hills, east of the Rockies," he said.

"So we're expecting a lot of Atlantic Canadians to make the trek."

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