Despite lack of snow, Grouse Mountain and Whistler Blackcomb say they’re faring well

Click to play video: 'Slow start to North Shore ski season hitting ski hill workers'
Slow start to North Shore ski season hitting ski hill workers
The slow start to winter, and to the North Shore ski season, appears to be hitting some ski hill workers in their bank account. Cassidy Mosconi has that and advice for skiers and boarders from a climate scientist – Jan 4, 2024

Despite the lack of snow that has fallen in southwestern B.C. this winter, two ski resorts say they — and their staff — are faring well as the season progresses.

In an emailed statement, Grouse Mountain Resort said it’s fortunate to have a “diversified business” and employees who are skilled in multiple areas, including operations of its attractions and its hospitality services.

“Given the early season conditions we’re still experiencing, we were able to reopen our Mountain Ziplines, Mountain Ropes Adventure, and Kids Tree Canopy activities, allowing our staff impacted by the low snow to receive consistent shifts until conditions improve,” said Michael Cameron, resort president, on Thursday.

“We have been doing our best to allocate hours fairly amongst our snow staff and to support our entire workforce as best we can.”

Click to play video: 'Planning a ski trip? Canada’s mild winter keeps fewer hills open'
Planning a ski trip? Canada’s mild winter keeps fewer hills open

The resort remains “positive” about the rest of the winter season and hopes to open more terrain soon — an outlook shared by Whistler Blackcomb, which is around 18 of 27 runs open.

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In an emailed statement, it said it’s fully staffed this season with all departments working at capacity. To date, it has not had any mountain closures since it opened on Nov. 23.

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“Currently, we have a ski acreage of 6,100, which is 74 per cent of our full terrain footprint,” wrote Nick Voutour, communications manager for Whistler Blackcomb.

“While it’s been a slower start with respect to snowfall this winter, we now have opened up our alpine terrain lifts — this is a direct reflection of the efforts and expertise of our mountain operations team.”

Global News has also reached out to Cypress Mountain and Mt Seymour Ski Resort for comment.

Click to play video: 'No snow for B.C. ski hills'
No snow for B.C. ski hills

The rosy outlook runs counter to a message posted from at least one B.C. ski resort worker. In a Facebook group for Australians living in Vancouver, that user posted that the North Shore has experienced a “shockingly slow start” to the snow season that has impacted his colleagues.

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He said those mountain workers “have been really struggling to pick up shifts and are digging deep to stay in Vancouver,” while asking if anyone in the Facebook group knew of any available work for them.

In his email, Cameron said Grouse Mountain Resort began providing additional support to its staff — including free meals for those working the holidays, transit subsidies and food basket program — on Dec. 18. About 130 staff have taken advantage of the basket program, he added.

Click to play video: 'B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan. 3'
B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan. 3

British Columbia’s December was warm, but not record-breaking, according to Environment Canada.

Earlier this week, federal meteorologist Brian Proctor said many weather stations around the province reported records ranging from their second, to fifth-warmest Decembers yet. The month was also very dry — without enough rain or snow to alleviate long-standing drought concerns.

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This week is expected to bring colder temperatures and the possibility of snow at higher elevations.

Click to play video: 'Double digit temperatures means small crowds for local mountains'
Double digit temperatures means small crowds for local mountains

Elsewhere in Canada, several ski resorts reported struggling under the warmer weather.

As of Wednesday, Blue Mountain in Ontario had just one of 11 runs open, and while Quebec’s Mont Tremblant had all of its lifts open, many of them only had about half of their runs open.

The Edge had opened one of seven and Versant Soleil had two out of 15 open.

Near Penticton, Apex Mountain Resort has said it’s seen a slower start to the 2023-2024 season than last year, with numbers significantly down from the previous season, when it was able to open a week earlier than normal.

— with files from Sean Previl and The Canadian Press


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