Calabogie Peaks ski hill to open Thursday as province eases restrictions

The slopes of Calabogie Peaks Resort will open to skiers Thursday as part of the province's plans to gradually ease pandemic restrictions amid declining COVID-19 case numbers. 

Will be one of the first ski resorts in Ontario to reopen

Ontario ski hills hoping for strong end to season as they get ready to reopen

3 years ago
Duration 1:07
Jim Hemlin, chief operating officer of Calabogie Peaks Resort, says the revenue lost during the lockdown won’t be coming back, but he’s happy to get a chance to welcome skiers again for the end of the season.

The slopes of Calabogie Peaks Resort will open to skiers Thursday as part of Ontario's plans to gradually ease pandemic restrictions amid declining COVID-19 case numbers.

The hill about an hour west of Ottawa will be one of two in Ontario allowed to open this week, along with Batawa Ski Hill north of Trenton.

"What we were hoping to do is get a good end of season and have people come back out and and get some exercise and some fresh air," said Jim Hemlin, Calabogie Peaks' chief operating officer.

Ski resorts across the province were among the non-essential businesses forced to close when Ontario imposed a provincewide shutdown on Dec. 26. They've remained open in other provinces.

On Monday the province said ski hills can reopen under new rules once their public health unit transitions back to the province's colour-coded COVID-19 reopening framework.

That transition will begin with three eastern Ontario public health units returning to the lowest level of green on Wednesday: Hastings Prince Edward, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington and Renfrew County.

Batawa is only selling lift tickets to residents of those regions.

Twenty-eight other health units, including Ottawa, are expected to shed the stay-at-home order and return to that scale Feb. 16, while Toronto, Peel and York regions must wait until at least Feb. 22.

Hills can open across the scale

A spokesperson for the province confirmed ski hills will be allowed to open across the scale, even in health units that are in the grey zone. 

Anyone who rides a chairlift has to wear a mask that covers their entire mouth, nose and chin and hills that reopen in red or grey areas will have capacity limits of 50 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. 

Lessons will be allowed at hills in regions that aren't in grey, subject to in-person teaching regulations, physical distancing and capacity limits.

The president of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association welcomed the news. 

"We've been hoping for some good news, for getting our operators up and running again," said Kevin Nichol. "We're hoping that we'll get a good spring season to make up for some of the losses."

Calabogie Peaks Resort's ski hills in a file photo from February 2016. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Nichol said many of the hills that will reopen in the coming weeks were operating with heightened safety protocols before the shutdown.

"We're just going to pick up where we left off," said Nichol. "We'll fine tune some of our protocols and we're pretty confident that we can operate safely."

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