Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

Skiing is a COVID-friendly activity, but shared public spaces require adjustment

Mount Cain is hoping to open the alpine park this winter, and is currently working out what changes need to be made to keep staff and visitors safe.

There will be no Magic Mondays for school groups, no shared hostel accommodations, no Cain bus and limited day lodge use.

Deciding they can’t safely offer Monday ski lessons to north Island students was the hardest hit for David Mazzucchi, chair of the board at Mount Cain.

“It’s my favourite thing about Mount Cain. You get school groups from all over the north Island coming up, and it might be the one time they see snow that year. We have lots of people volunteer to teach them to ski. But there’s just no way we can do it safely, and the risk is just way too high,” Mazzucchi said.

They hope to open the mountain Dec. 12, snow dependant, and every weekend as long as the snow holds. If feasible, it’ll be open the Christmas and New Years’ week, closed on Dec. 24 and 25, open for spring break and Easter long weekend.

That is, as long as the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t revert to a Phase 1 situation, forcing the mountain to close.

The board is considering renting out cabins and suites will be rented out to families or COVID-19 bubble groups, but the full cabin will have to be rented by one party; no sharing will be permitted.

It’s also looking at food and beverage options, and how to manage a space for people to dry off and warm up safely.

Lift line-ups will be spaced, and the board plans to install sanitation stations in key places. As a major youth employer on the north Island, the board says they are committed to adhering to WorkSafeBC requirements and guidelines to make it a safe work space.

“Skiing itself is a COVID-friendly sport. You’re outside, you’re wearing gloves, a mask of sorts,” Mazzucchi said.

As far as the viability of the modified plan, the board intends to make an informed decision after considering all information including financial forecasts. Mount Cain is in the process of seeking expert advice from Tourism Vancouver Island’s Tourism Resilience Program and pursuing options to help cover the increased costs of opening. Despite all this, the increased expenses and reduced revenue might be too much for the community-run, world-class mountain.

A full season plan will be presented to members during the Nov. 7 virtual general meeting.

RELATED: Mount Cain estimates losses of $150k after being forced to end season early due to COVID-19

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Outdoors and Recreation