Ontario ski resorts hope everything goes downhill for the right reason this season

It's estimated the pandemic has cost Ontario ski industry and spin-offs $140 million in lost revenue

Two lost March breaks, the loss of most of the lucrative Christmas season in 2020, and other pandemic-related lockdowns, it has been an uphill battle for area ski resorts.

A new season dawns with capacity limits eased, vaccination rates inching closer to 90 per cent province-wide, and resorts itching to make snow.

Kevin Nichol, President of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association, estimates the nearly two-year pandemic has cost the industry and supporting businesses about 9,500 jobs and upwards of $140 million in revenue.

“I know there are several (resorts) that just barely made it through,” said Nichols. “Without the assistance from the federal and provincial governments, I think the story would have been much different.”

He predicts the ski industry will need three to five years to return to what was the norm pre-COVID in terms of revenue, infrastructure, and being able to facilitate planning.

“This association has been around for 56 years and we have never had to rely on government aid in the past, so this is a unique situation in our sector.”

Each ski resort is an individual business entity, so Nichol says they will make their own decisions regarding COVID regulations based on open dialogue with the local health unit to work out the nuances and special requirements.

Under current rules, Ontario skiers won’t have to show proof-of-vaccination, and resorts will not have to limit capacity on chairlifts.

“We’re looking forward to having a healthy winter,” said Nichol.