We hope that everyone is staying safe and staying at home. 2021 has started off just as strangely as 2020 finished. The announcement of the State of Emergency and Stay at Home Order means that we will not see you on the slopes for a few more weeks. As much as we want to see your smiling faces sliding over our perfectly groomed slopes, we need everyone to do their part by staying home. The sooner the numbers improve, the sooner we will be able to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
In early December, we were in the Red Zone and we were allowed to open the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area (HVHSA) with a number of restrictions. We had plans in place to continue operations if we were put into the Grey Zone as ski hills were allowed to operate with the regulations at that time. On December 21, 2020, it was announced that the new Grey Zone, the “Provincewide Shutdown” would take effect on December 26th, 2020 and ski hills were singled out as the only Winter Recreational Amenity that would be closed under the new regulations. To date, the reason for this has been somewhat mystical but ski hills in Ontario have respected the regulations and shutdown the lifts on Christmas day.
I have been included in the committee that has been struck between the Ski Industry and the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The focus of this committee is to plan for the re-opening of ski hills as soon as it is safe to do so. There are a number of topics on the table and the ski industry is trying to make sure that our provincial government is aware of all the COVID protection practices we have put in place. We are trying to determine when we might be able to re-open and what colour of restriction we will be in when this happens. We are encouraging the Ontario Government to at very least return to the original Grey Zone restriction (prior to December 26) so that ski hills can be open like everywhere else in North America.
It appears that February 12, 2021, is the earliest that the State of Emergency will be lifted and that ski hills will be considered for re-opening. Some people are wondering if that is too far into the winter season to re-open HVHSA. We say NO. There is lots of winter left in Muskoka after February 12th and HVHSA will have the slopes ready if we can re-open before the end of February. If we can get re-open, we are looking at adding some extra operational days and nights in March and into April (with some help from Mother Nature). HVHSA usually closes due to a lack of interest versus a lack of snow so if we have snow and if the government will let us re-open sooner rather than later, we could have a fantastic spring.
In the meantime, please do your part to help flatten the curve and to get rid of COVID-19. Stay home and practice your snow dances in your own backyard. We still want to ski and snowboard this year just as much as you do.
Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area