Southern Quebec ski hills reopen for business after rainy week

The inclement weather over the holidays certainly hasn't been ideal for ski resorts in Southern Quebec, but things are turning around this weekend.

Promoters say cooler temperatures and snow-making equipment make for decent conditions despite weather woes

Crews at Ski Saint-Bruno on Montreal's South Shore have been busy making and grooming snow to ensure perfect conditions after recent rains. (CBC)

The rainy weather over the holidays certainly hasn't been ideal for ski resorts in Southern Quebec, but things are beginning to turn around this weekend. 

Now promoters are reaching out to the public, reassuring people that the hills are ready.

"The icy sidewalks that we see in Montreal, we don't see here thanks to snow-making equipment," said Yves Juneau, CEO of Quebec's association of ski areas (ASSQ).

After a rough few days of mild temperatures and rain, many ski hills in the region were slow to open Saturday to allow snow-making and grooming equipment to repair the weather-worn slopes.

"Practically all ski mountains are open, but some started late today to work on the snow," he said.

Last year, it was the frigid temperatures that kept people away. Now, Juneau said, it's the mild temperatures and rain.

Yves Juneau, CEO of Quebec's association of ski areas (ASSQ), speaks to CBC from the slopes of Mont Saint-Sauveur, located about 50 kilometres north of Montreal. (CBC)

"It started off really well with a really strong start in November," he said, referring to the early cold spell and snow that hit the region.

"Unfortunately, just before Christmas, we had a thaw and that slowed down our operation. We had to close for a few days."

'Conditions are good'

"I think, right now, the conditions are good despite the bad gifts Mother Nature sent to us," he said.

"It's hard to motivate people to come skiing when, in their backyard, they see grass."

Snow-making keeps slopes in good shape

Ski Saint-Bruno on Montreal's South Shore closed Friday and then delayed Saturday's opening to 1 p.m.

Owner and president Michel Couture said Ski Saint-Bruno has been open since Nov. 16, making and piling machine-made snow. Piling the snow, he said, means crews can renew the snowy surface quickly after rain.

Ski Saint-Bruno owner and president Michel Couture says the rain doesn't really wash away much snow, but crews need to groom the slopes as it re-freezes. (CBC)

The rain doesn't necessarily wash away the snow, he explained, but it is important to let the water drain and then rework the slushy surface as it re-freezes.

On Saturday, the ski hill was inviting clients to come test the snow quality and, if they're not satisfied, they were welcomed to turn in their ticket within 30 minutes and use it another day.

"We invested a lot in snow-making," he said. "People should come out and just enjoy winter. Everywhere in Quebec, there's a lot of snow in the hills."

With files from Radio-Canada and Valeria Cori-Manocchio


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