Nova Scotia

Ski Cape Smokey picks up speed under new owner

Ski Cape Smokey in Ingonish, N.S., opened on the weekend under new management and with a new vision for the operation.

Plans include expanded offerings throughout winter season and options during non-winter months

Ski Cape Smokey was purchased from the Nova Scotia government last year for $370,000 by Cape Smokey Holding Ltd. (Ski Cape Smokey/Facebook)

Ski Cape Smokey in Ingonish, N.S., opened on the weekend under new management and with a new vision for the operation.

Martin Kejval, project manager for Cape Smokey Holding Ltd., the development group that bought the hill from the province last summer for $370,000, said the operation will no longer just be focused on skiing.

"We believe those times are over," he said.

The group, led by New York-based developer Joseph Balaz, plans to construct a multimillion-dollar treetop walkway, turning the hill into a year-round destination.

It's also expanding the range of activities on offer through the winter. This month, the hill will host a snowmobile race, a mountain bike race and a microbrewery festival.

An artist's rendering of what a possible treetop walkway could look like at the Cape Smokey ski hill. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC)

Cape Smokey Holding has invested about $110,000 in improvements, including landscaping and new snow-making equipment. Operating as a volunteer society for the past several seasons, the hill relied on natural snowfall.

"[People] were surprised that we opened this early because that didn't happen in the past," said Kejval.

Currently, the only lift in operation is what's known as a Poma lift, which is on the lower half of the mountain. Cape Smokey Holding plans to start construction on a gondola this summer and have it running by July 1, 2021.

Kejval said there's lots of local support for the hill's long-term vision.

"It seems it's like a community centre for them," he said. "That's one of the reasons we tried so hard this year to be open for the winter ... We wanted to show them that there is work being done and we care about the community."

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About the Author

Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at holly.conners@cbc.ca.

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