Mount Timothy Recreation Resort is preparing for what it anticipates could be one of its busiest seasons yet.
General manager Walter Bramsleven said the ski hill spent most of the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent summer season working on improving its facilities and infrastructure. This includes a new rental and guest services pro-shop building, five rentable log cabins expected to be ready for winter, flagging trails for mountain biking next year, brushing out parts of the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail and installing signage.
Since early May, he said they’ve had close to a dozen employees working at the hill, on and off, working on the various projects, including lift maintenance. The lift is in the best shape it has ever been, he added.
“We’re putting in water lines, septic lines and upgrading a lot of our infrastructure. Both of our magic carpet conveyors will be operational this winter and the lift huts for both of those lifts have been completely replaced so the employees will have a much more comfortable place to work in and makes the place look a heck of a lot better,” Bramsleven said.
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Bramselven said he hopes they will have more skiers this year than during a normal winter, noting that limits on indoor winter activities, due to COVID-19, people may be looking for another outlet to get their entertainment. He noted ski resorts in Australia and one in New Zealand recently wrapped up their seasons with an increase over and above the regular season despite expecting to see a 50 percent drop in users this.
“It’s been an interesting dynamic and we’re learning a lot from the people in Australia and New Zealand because they’ve already gone for the safety protocols of dealing with COVID and have run successfully through an entire ski season,” Bramsleven said. “We’ll definitely have some challenges ahead of us but nothing that’s insurmountable. It’s not much different than the restaurant industry, we’ll have to watch our limits of how many people we have inside.”
While there won’t be many restrictions on how many people can use the ski hill at one time, Bramsleven said they’ll have to tread carefully inside their facilities to make sure the lodge does not go over capacity. One suggestion, he said, is to ask skiers to bring their own lunches to the hill and consider eating in their cars rather than the lodge to stay socially distant.
“We’re optimistic in that we think there may be an increase in riders this year but we’ll see what happens,” Bramsleven said. “There are going to be very acceptable COVID safety protocols in place and everyone will be notified as such. Simple things like not removing your gloves while riding on the chair lift, if you’re feeling sick, stay home – that particularly will apply to our employees who will either have to get a COVID test or quarantine themselves for 14 days. We’ve got some work to do yet but it’s coming together.”
Additional changes to the mountain will include turning the single-lane tube park into a four-lane tube park and improving the snowshoe trail. The new rental shop will provide more space to be efficient and less congested. Bramsleven is hopeful they can also host some events but said they will have to wait and see.
Season passes just went on sale this month. Tickets are $835 for adults over 19; $555 for university students and seniors aged 65-79; $600 for youth 13-18 and $420 for juniors aged 6-12. However, those who purchase their passes before Oct. 31 can save between $40 and $60. Children five and under and super seniors over 80 can still enter free of charge.
Bramsleven confirmed the cost of passes has risen, for the first in six years, because of the “significant investment” that’s been made to improve the hill and to pay for the liability insurance, which has doubled in the last three years. The prices are comparable to other similar mountains in B.C., he added.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything for everyone. We’ve got the tubing for young people and regular aged people as well as snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. Having all those activities plus being connected directly to the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail, there’s just so much more to do up here now,” Bramsleven said. “We’re trying to present ourselves as a resort that has something for everybody of all age groups.”
The season typically starts around Dec. 15, but Bramsleven said they’ll open whenever they have enough snow to ski.