Ontario Response to Province-Wide Ski Hill Closures

 

December 22, 2020

The Ontario Snow Resorts Association (OSRA) responded today to the news of a 28-day shutdown for the majority of Ontario ski hills beginning on December 26th, 2020.

“Despite working with the Government of Ontario over the past several months, despite nearly 2,500 Ontarians sending letters through the Save Our Skiing campaign, and despite investing heavily into this year’s season to keep Ontarians safe, the government has decided to shutdown ski hills,” began Kevin Nichol, President of the OSRA.

The OSRA had been working with the government to ensure that ski hills would be supported like golf courses were during the first wave. The association, in partnership with the Canadian Ski Council, created the Ski Well, Be Well program, to keep skiers and staff safe during the pandemic. In November, Save Our Skiing was launched, a campaign which got thousands of Ontarians to write to their local MPP to ask for their support for the snow season. “While golf courses were supported by the Ontario Government, even during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, ski hills have been left behind.

This has caused resorts to spend millions of dollars in anticipation of opening, just to be closed. Thousands of resort employees are now furloughed and all Ontarians who enjoy downhill skiing won’t be able to participate and will lose out on an activity that helps their physical and mental health,” continued Nichol.

On the same day as the announcement in Ontario, the Government of Quebec working with ski hills moved in the opposite direction by increasing their ski lift loading capacity, from one person per chair to 50% of chair lifts. Ontario has now become the only jurisdiction in all of North America to close ski hills.

“Ski hills across Ontario are ready to welcome skiers this year with extra precautions. They are ready to deliver an experience that Ontarians rely on during the darkest days of winter. Unfortunately, the government has decided to not support ski hills and is the only jurisdiction in North America to stop skiers from enjoying the sport.

While we will miss the thousands of skiers over the next few weeks, we look forward to welcoming them soon in a safe and responsible manner and continue to work with the government on fully and safely reopening,” concluded Nichol.

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Update:

December 29, 2020

There have been a number of campaigns led by citizens and community leaders to push back against the provincial government’s decision to shut ski resorts December 26, 2020 – January 22, 2021.

One petition “Allow Ski Hills to Operate During Ontario Lockdown” has collected 74,824 at the time of writing.

You can visit (and sign if interested) this online petition here: https://www.change.org/p/doug-ford-allow-ski-hills-to-operate-during-ontario-lockdown

The body of the petition is also copied below:

“Doug Ford announced new closures for Ontario to curb the Covid second wave.

Included in the closures was ski hills, but all other forms of recreation are available to enjoy. Skiing should be the safest sport to participate in with face coverings, mandatory space between patrons (skis and snowboards easily facilitate social distancing), riding chair lifts with only family, in a time of immense negativity, this can also help our mental health, not to mention the exercise that we all desperately want.

Most ski hills have created enough rules on their own to help keep COVID at bay on the slopes.
If we are unable to support our slopes and ski hill employees we may lose some of the resorts we have due to not being able to break even this year.
Historically most resorts have 3.5 months to make the money they need to pay for not only staff and taxes but also improvements, mortgages, and new opportunities.

Ontario is the only province, state, or territory in North America to shut ski hills.

We want Premier Doug Ford to allow skiing during this pandemic, because it’s also an opportunity for peaceful sport, family time, and exercise for young children up to and including adults in a safe outdoor fresh air environment. Keep the lifts and slopes open, close the shops and restaurants to help mitigate Covid spread.

Please Premier Ford reconsider your position.”