New Brunswick

Poley Mountain ski hill cuts 200 seasonal jobs after Sussex area moves to red phase

The mayor of Sussex has confirmed 200 seasonal staff at Poley Mountain have been laid off after parts of the province moved to the red phase of COVID-19 recovery this week.

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne says he's hopeful closure will only last a week

Poley Mountain laid off its 200 seasonal employees after the Saint John health region, which includes the Sussex area, moved back to the red phase of recovery. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

The mayor of Sussex has confirmed 200 seasonal staff at Poley Mountain have been laid off after parts of the province moved to the red phase of COVID-19 recovery this week.

"Under the red phase there's just no way that Poley Mountain can open," Marc Thorne said Friday.

An empty ski hill at Poley Mountain on Friday morning. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

But Thorne said he's hopeful the ski hill in Zone 2, the Saint John region, will be able to reopen after a week — as long as the number of COVID-19 cases start to decrease.

On its Facebook page, Poley Mountain announced on Tuesday that it would be closing the ski hill until restrictions are lifted.

Empty ski and snowboard racks at the Sussex-area ski resort. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Poley Mountain typically employs about 200 people every winter to run the hill. They include the people who make snow, groom the hill, are attendants at the chair lifts, or work in the kitchen and rental shops.

"That being the case they had to lay people off, but it is intended to only be temporary," Thorne said.

These seasonal workers live in the Waterford and Sussex areas. 

In a normal winter, Poley Mountain would attract visitors from all over the province, so the pandemic has had a "tremendous impact."

"They need those ticket sales."

3 out of 4 ski hills closed

There are four ski areas in New Brunswick.

Ski Crabbe Mountain, about 54 kilometres northwest of Fredericton, also announced its closure this week.

"Rest assured, we are treating this interruption as a pause in our season, not an end to our season," the ski hill said in a Facebook post.

There were 324 active cases in New Brunswick on Thursday. This graphic does not reflect a person with COVID-19 whose death was not related to the disease. (CBC News)

Jordan Cheney, general manager of Ski Crabbe Mountain, said there haven't been any layoffs at the ski hill, which is also in a health zone that has been moved back to red. But staff are concerned about what happens to them if the red phase continues.

"We're going to have to look at that as this closure continues, and right now we're not planning on permanent layoffs," he said. "There's obviously staff that aren't getting hours right now."

Cheney said the ski season has been unprecedented this year.

"Everything was lined up to potentially be so strong with pent-up demand … and we're still kind of waiting for winter to show up."

The Mont Farlagne Outdoor Centre, about nine kilometres northwest of Edmundston, announced Wednesday it would be closing.

The ski hill will remain closed until the Edmundston region, also known as Zone 4, returns to the orange phase. 

"We are saddened by this news but also in solidarity with all the people and our family, the employees of  … Mont Farlagne," the ski hill said in a Facebook post.

Sugarloaf Park in the Campbellton region, also known as Zone 5, remains open. That area is still in the orange phase.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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