Province gives the nod to ski hills to open

Colour code system will determine what that will look like

With the end of the winter season fast approaching, the Ford government said Monday that skill hills will be permitted to operate.

John Ball, General Manager of Snow Valley, said they won’t know how the reopening will go until they find out what colour zone the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will be placed in.

Sarah Huter at Mount St. Louis Moonstone said “we are super excited.”

In Simcoe-Muskoka, the opening of ski hills will be allowed on Feb. 16 when the stay-at-home order is to end, pending direction from the local health unit.

The province said ski and most other outdoor snow recreational amenities will be able to operate for recreational purposes in all zones, including Grey (Lockdown), with conditions.

Any person using a downhill ski lift, including a surface lift, must wear a mask or face covering so their mouth, nose and chin are covered.

“In the Grey (Lockdown) Zone lessons are prohibited. Children and adult lessons can be offered in the Green (Prevent), Yellow (Protect), Orange (Restrict), and Red (Control) Zone providing they comply with the requirements identified in the in-person teaching and instruction section of the regulation,” the premier’s office said.

Ski hill operators in Ontario were set to open for the season at Christmas when the provincial lockdown was imposed on Dec. 26. Resorts reacted with shock that hills were off-limits, when downhill skiing was permitted elsewhere in North America.

In fact, operators said they sent the province a list of things in the fall that resorts were prepared to do to operate safely.

The holiday season is the biggest moneymaker for area ski hills, and the loss was even a greater hardship considering they closed before March Break 2020 as the pandemic gained a foothold in Ontario.