Development of the eastern escarpment area of Riding Mountain National Park could be a decade away, but it's never too early to get people dreaming of its potential.
With more than 900 current and former McCreary residents taking part in the McCreary and District Homecoming and the 99th annual fair and rodeo this weekend, the Agassiz Mountain Development Group is taking the opportunity to reacquaint folks with the once-vibrant ski and resort area.
"People would be walking about and reminiscing at the site whether or not we had an event," AMDG founder and general manager Kelly Rose told the Sun. "We're taking advantage of the fact that they're there so ... maybe the same passion I have will be passed onto someone who attends and maybe they can open a lot more opportunities in terms of what can be done there."
Just as events are winding down in McCreary Sunday, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the site, ask questions and pitch ideas about the development group's plans to create a four-season tourism hub that uses downhill skiing as its flagship attraction.
"Because (the tours are) more of a chance to reminisce, there's a lot of pictures of the resort in its heyday so we hope that in seeing what it was, it will also inspire people to consider what it can be again, only better," Rose said.
Three years ago, AMDG began investigating potential development of the area where Mount Agassiz Ski Resort operated until it fell into bankruptcy and then into receivership in 2000. The resort first opened for skiing in the 1960s.
The development group has been working on conceptual plans for a multi-seasonal recreation and tourism hub at the site and has plans to step forward as a proponent when the time is right, Rose said.
In June 2009, Parks Canada presented the results of the exhaustive environmental, structural and mechanical assessments that were completed to determine Agassiz's start point for potential revitalization.
Although the current park management plan stipulates that no new leases would be granted for downhill skiing at RMNP, Rose is confident the groundswell of support that's growing locally and throughout the province, will convince park officials otherwise. Parks officials will begin drafting the upcoming five-year management plan soon, as the current plan expires in 2012.
Site tours will be ongoing from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday. Complimentary refreshments are available.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 27, 2010 A4