Cash-strapped Snow Village closes its doors, for now
Montreal's popular winter destination asks the government for some much-needed funding
Montreal’s Snow Village can’t afford to open its doors this year, and organizers are asking the government to step in and help out.
For two winters, the frosty festival drew pleasure-seekers to its ice hotel, ice bar and restaurant at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
The village's unique ice chapel has also housed 15 weddings.
The award-winning destination was even featured by CNN travel in January as one of the best frozen getaways around the world.
But organizers say they’ve run out of money, and if the government doesn’t help out soon they will have to call it quits.
Snow Village Canada co-founder and president, Guy Bélanger, spoke with CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty about the festival, it’s challenges, and plans for the future.
“We’ve been supporting the project for the last two years and we’re out of breath right now,” Bélanger said.
A lack of public funding and fluctuating winter temperatures, including an extreme cold spell last January, have made it difficult for the Snow Village to stay afloat, he said.
Last year, Bélanger says the village generated $13 million for the local economy, but the municipality isn’t giving back.
He’s asking Tourism Montreal, Tourism Quebec and the City of Montreal to pitch in.
Many annual festivals in the province are already supported through government funding, including Quebec City’s ice hotel.
But Bélanger says it’s difficult for newcomers to gain access to that money.
“The funds are out there, but there’s not a lot of room. It’s a closed circle for the new players.”
He says the lack of government support also makes it difficult for the Snow Village to compete with other festivals, which can afford to open their doors to the public for free.
Last season, the cost of an adult day pass was $11.75, or $16.10 on the weekend.
Bélanger says lower cheaper entrance fees would draw larger crowds, but they can't afford to lower their rates without some help. He says that while the festival will be on hiatus this winter, he hopes they will be able to open their doors again by the next season.
“We put so much effort into it, so much investment, it would be sad to see this project die in Montreal.”