Mount Agassiz Ski Hill has been closed since 2000. (FILE PHOTO)
The fate of the long-shuttered Mount Agassiz Ski Hill will be decided by the end of August as the window for business proposals comes to a close at the end of May.
Parks Canada said the request for proposals for the redevelopment of the ski hill located in Riding Mountain National Park — which has been closed for more than a decade — has been open for nine months and will close on May 30.
Since the RFP was promised back in 2012, the process has been marred with delays due to the complexity of the file.
Parks Canada said a final decision will be made within 120 days after the request closes and a source told the Sun only one proposal has been submitted, raising questions about what Parks Canada may do with the land if there’s only one plan put forward and it isn’t accepted.
"Parks Canada is committed to exploring new opportunities for engaging visitors and developing innovative recreational activities in our national parks while maintaining ecological integrity," Mélissa Larose, a Parks Canada spokesperson, wrote in an email to the Sun earlier this week.
Back in 2007, when a park management plan was initially tabled in Parliament that said there would be no new licences granted for downhill skiing in the park, the idea was to put in place a "rehabilitation plan" for the hill.
"Parks Canada will review the situation and determine ways of engaging local communities and stakeholders in discussions about future options for the Mount Agassiz site in the context of the East Escarpment Strategy," Larose stated.
The proposal has been criticized by some as being too complicated, making the area less desirable for developers to put in proposals.
The Mount Agassiz Feasibility Study, released in January 2012, said reopening the ski hill is not likely financially viable because of limited markets, competition from existing ski hills and high capital and operating costs.
However, despite the findings, some people believe there is strong interest and support for reopening the site, Parks Canada says, and amendments were made to the park management plan because of the public support.
Meanwhile, the current owners of Agassiz Park Lodge are looking to sell the property after 15 years at the helm of the McCreary hotel.
Nancy Hayes, who has voiced frustration with how sluggish Parks Canada has been moving on the ski hill file, said they’ve decided to retire, but remain hopeful the future is bright for the skil hill.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 17, 2014