Manitoba could soon have another ski hill on the horizon.
On Thursday, Parks Canada announced a request for proposals as the first step to reopen Mount Agassiz Ski Area in Riding Mountain National Park for a sustainable winter or multi-season operation.
“This RFP is an important first step towards reopening the Mount Agassiz Ski Area,” said Richard Dupuis, acting superintendent at RMNP. “Parks Canada is committed to supporting tourism industry initiatives to provide opportunities for visitors to enjoy and understand their national parks, while maintaining the ecological integrity of these special places.”
Ninety-eight per cent of Riding Mountain National Park is designated wilderness, but Mount Agassiz is a designated recreational area.
Mount Agassiz ski park was shut down in the spring of 2000.
In January 2012, SE Group reported its finding on a two-year feasibility study that examined the park’s potential and took a comprehensive look at the ski industry in Manitoba. The study proposed three options to reopen Agassiz.
The “community ski option,” in which the ski hill would be downsized from its previous state and only open runs on the east side of the mountain, resulted in an estimated loss of approximately $100,000 per year, the report stated.
The “restoration option,” in which the ski hill would open both runs and rebuild and restore existing facilities at Agassiz, resulted in a 10-year loss of approximately $9 million.
The option would rely on more than 36,000 visits per year to break even, which is more than double the realistic expectations, stated the report from SE Group.
The “competitive option,” in which the ski hill builds two new lifts, purchases new equipment and builds a new lodge, resulted in an initial profit of $300,000 in the first year. But due to capital maintenance costs and debt service charges, the study states the ski hill would lose close to $9 million over 10 years.
Multiple proposals are expected and potential proponents can register and obtain the full RFP package from RMNP. Information will also be available on the Parks Canada website.
Dupuis said the RFP is open to include private, community-owned or a co-operative model for the ski area.
“We want the market to determine it and at the end of the day we want the operation to be sustainable over time,” Dupuis said. “We don’t want what happened at the hill before.”
The entire RFP process is expected to take one year. In October, there is a mandatory site visit and Dupuis said at that point Parks Canada will have a good idea of who is serious about the park.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from Parks Canada
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2013