Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

D&eacute ;half-hearted goal of the snow sports season in Eastern Quebec

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The direction of The Mont-Saint-Mathieu park ski resort relies on artificial snow to open its slopes. (Archive photo)

  • Paul Fontaine (View profile)Paul Fontaine

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Ski resorts in the Eastern Quebec suffers from low snowfall and struggles to meet their labor needs, a double problem which, for certain mountains, delays the opening of the slopes and entails additional costs.

A thin carpet of snow, five or seven centimeters at most, covers the foot of Mont Béchervaise, in Gaspé. This is too little to accommodate skiers when the ski season should already be in full swing.

Lacking snow cannons, this ski center relies on Mother Nature which, until now, has not been very kind to it. They are announcing good precipitation projections for next week, but we don't really know if it will fall in snow or rain, asked the general director of the center, Gaëlle Vivier, on the microphone of the show < em>From East to East.

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The Mont Béchervaise resort had a good season in 2023. (Archive photo)

The warm spells that occurred in December also had repercussions in Mont-Saint-Mathieu park, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, where the #x27;snowmaking on the slopes was interrupted on a few occasions.

Mechanically manufactured snow tolerates heat a little better compared to real snow, but with 16 degrees like we had for three days, we lost a good amount, underlines the general director of this ski resort, Annie Couture .

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Result: only 11 of the 33 slopes are open and the snow cannons are still in use. We are still in snowfall as we speak, unlike in past years, when we were able to stop on December 29 or 30. There, we continue our snowmaking for two more weeks, so these are additional costs, she adds.

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Snowboarding enthusiasts can slide down several slopes of Mont Ti-Basse, in Baie-Comeau. (Archive photo)

Artificial snowmaking also saved the day at Mont Ti-Basse, in Baie-Comeau. This ski resort has been able to open five of its 11 slopes since December 16.

It takes us a minimum of minus 5 degrees to make snow, so, from December 1, we have optimized all possible snowmaking windows, that is, at night, in the evening and even during the day, explains the leisure and outdoor manager at the City of Baie-Comeau, Martin Dionne.

Ski centers do not escape the lack of labor, but the 'delayed or partial opening of the slopes accentuates recruitment problems.

Already it is difficult to find labor, when there is no start date, it’s worse, sighs Gaëlle Vivier.

The Mont Béchervaise ski center, whose reduced workforce prepares the slopes, is forced to make a second wave of hiring in anticipation of its opening. Some people who said they would work with us in the meantime had to find other jobs since we weren't able to open early.

For its part, Mont Ti-Basse, administered by the City of Baie-Comeau, can count on municipal employees for the maintenance of its slopes.

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Martin Dionne salutes the “hard work” of his team, which allowed the partial opening of the Ti-Basse nont. (Archive photo)

Martin Dionne still notes that the workforce is smaller than before. Last year, it was very difficult, but this year, I feel that there is a slight slowdown in participation.

This mixed start to the season confirms, for Gaëlle Vivier, that Mont Béchervaise can no longer rely solely on its winter activities, the income from which is increasingly uncertain.

We are trying to develop summer activities on the mountain. We are hosting a music festival. The more we are able to develop four-season activities, the more it will allow us to sustain the ski center, explains the resort director. She hopes that the end of the season, scheduled for April 14, will be more profitable.

At Mont-Saint-Mathieu park, there is no question of extending the snow season or opening hours. The station still managed to get by by opening at the beginning of December. We have a lot of visitors from other surrounding mountains which are not open. It creates good traffic in the few open trails, says Annie Couture.

On the North Shore, the center of Mont Ti-Basse has good hope of seeing ticket sales increase during the month of January and thus compensate for the low point in December.

With the information from Perrine Bullant

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