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Mount Joy to open under a cloud

By January 4, 2023No Comments
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Mount Joy Snow Resort is putting on a happy face for this weekend’s season opener, but the long-term picture is glum with soaring insurance and operational costs.

The start to a fresh season, however, should be worry-free for skiers and snowboards with tons of natural and man-made snow on the slopes.

“It is going to be excellent conditions on the first day,” said resort president Chris Bogue on Tuesday.

“I was there Monday checking it out myself and we’re shaping up to have an amazing start to our season. It should be a good time.”

Bogue says volunteers completed a first run of snowmaking without a hitch with plans for another as the season rolls along.

In addition, the chalet has been painted inside and out along with some renovation and the lift Ts are rebuilt and serviced.

“All off-season improvements we’re done on a shoestring budget, knowing our insurance was going to be that much higher this year,” said Bogue.

In fact, insurance costs have more than tripled from about $7,000 to $33,000 as a result of RMA Insurance cancelling coverage for at least eight resorts in Alberta.

“Our power went up a couple of hundred dollars a month,” added Bogue, while operating costs are currently close to $50,000 a year.

“So, everything has gone up. We’re hoping to lower it down if we could offset that burden with a major grant or a donation.

“We need a good year this year so we can continue to open next year.”

Bogue says if they don’t have the community coming out and enjoying the facility, it will close, noting that’s the harsh reality of being a non-profit organization.

“This is a not-for-profit, but there is real business that has to go into it and there’s real work that has to go into it,” he said.

“When it comes to insurance, power, gas, our utility and supply costs, our inspection costs, it adds up in a hurry.” 

Bogue says the resort is asking when people are thinking of skiing they think of Lloydminster first and choose Mount Joy.

“We need the local support here so we can maintain and sustain teaching kids how to ski and snowboard as well as providing a safe area for all ages to come out and enjoy,” he said.

Bogue says it’s also harder to find volunteers to keep on operating.

He thinks long-term sustainability involves having another organization helping out in a grander fashion noting this could be a make-or-break year financially.

“We are rolling the dice on this. If we don’t have another year like we did the last two years, we don’t know where we are going to stand at the end of this year or if we are going to have funds for the next couple of years,” he said.

Bogue, however, believes the community is interested in Mount Joy and they are trying to do everything right for the community as far as decision-making goes and trying to run things as smoothly as possible.

“We’re still one of the cheapest ski areas in all of Canada,” said Bogue. “Everything is easy until it’s not. That’s essentially where we’re at.

“The ski industry has taken a terrific knock on insurance. Our insurance premiums this year are 33 per cent of our annual revenue.”

He says if the big insurance companies want to keep taking their money and leaving them with nothing, that’s not sustainable for them either, because it’s just going to drive Mount Joy out of business.

“We’re just going to take it year by year to see what the community response is and what next year brings, but this year’s going to be great,” vows Bogue.

“Everybody is pretty thrilled to get back. It’s great vibes. The ski patrollers and instructors are all trained up and ready to go. All our technicians are trained and ready to go. It should be pretty smooth running.”