Warm weather and spring showers brought the alpine season to an early end March 29 as Sir Sam’s Ski and Bike announced its hills were closing.
The ski hill announced its “most challenging season” was ending as the weather had deteriorated its snow base. It also said season pass holders who did not get full value would be able to forward a credit for next year.
The business planned to remain open for Easter weekend. Owner Chris Bishop said the hill could only open for 35 days this winter due to COVID-19 lockdowns and weather, whereas a normal season would be 80. He said it was a “frustrating” year, with snow resorts across the province upset about being unable to open for weeks after putting COVID-19 protocols in place. Ontario was the only jurisdiction in North America to close them this winter.
“The bottom line, it has a serious effect on your cash flow. We’ll figure out a way to get through to get open for next year,” Bishop said.
Bishop estimated spending about $50,000 on safety measures. He added things such as online ticketing would outlive the pandemic at the hill.
The government has provided some support, including a second round of payments under the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in its 2021 budget, which could mean up to $20,000 for businesses such as Sir Sam’s.
“Those things help,” Bishop said. “But it doesn’t make up for hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.”
The business saw plenty of encouraging support across its social media feed. “
You did everything right,” attendee Rory Gilfillan said. “This season drove home the value of a family-owned and operated hill. As I mentioned before, your hill and more importantly, your people are the animating part of our kids’ lives.”
Bishop said he is now readying for mountain biking in the summer and expects his property’s trails and camps to be popular.
“We just want to thank all of the customers that came this year,” he said. “Hope to see some of them this summer – and obviously, we look forward to a longer ski season next winter.”