There doesn’t appear to be much opposition to Marble Mountain becoming a six-day operation this winter.
Not even from a man who skis every day he possibly can and who even starts a countdown to the next season the day after the slopes close.
Hal Cormier, who is president of the Corner Brook Ski Club, said it’s true that Tuesdays are woefully quiet on Marble Mountain during the winter.
“There are days I’m up there and it’s like I have my own private resort,” he said. “It’s a ghost town.”
Before the provincial government took over Marble Mountain in the 1980s, the hill’s operations typically consisted of Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, followed by Friday night skiing and all-day skiing on Saturdays and Sundays.
“That may be the route they need to go to appease their season’s pass holders and mitigate costs to ensure the longevity of the ski hill,” said Cormier.
The other model Cormier suggested was opening from 1-7 p.m. during weekdays and all day on weekends. That, he said, would allow local season’s pass holders who work during the day an opportunity to go to Marble for supper and get a few runs in after work.
Either way, he said Marble Mountain needs to think outside the norm to find a way to make its operations more viable and to increase visitation from the people who live close by.
“They have to target the local area,” he said. “That’s your bread and butter.”
While he has no issue with closing Tuesdays if that’s what the numbers dictate, Cormier said the long-term goal still has to be returning Marble Mountain to a seven-day operation eventually and making it viable for all four seasons.
That, Cormier noted, hinges on developing the base of the ski hill.
“That has always been massive,” he said. “Even before government took it over, the ski club told government it had to develop the base or the plan for making Marble Mountain a four-season operation would not work.”
Keith Goulding, president of the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, said his organization is always critical and observant of how government spends tax dollars and welcomes this business decision at Marble.
“It’s nice to see they’re taking steps to look at the market, the traffic flow and population to see if it makes sense from a cost-savings perspective to operate six days a week as opposed to seven,” he said. “If that keeps the ski hill viable, I support that.”
Goulding is a little concerned about the impact being open one less day might have on the tourism and marketing perspective. As long as it is communicated effectively and everyone interested is well aware of when the hill is open and when it is not, then Goulding doesn’t see this being a big problem.
Like Cormier, Goulding believes developing the base of Marble Mountain is crucial to its future prosperity.
“Diversification is the key to Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy moving forward, so diversifying Marble Mountain only makes good economic sense too,” he said.
Provincial government considering Marble Mountain base development proposals
The province issued a request for proposals to the private sector to develop Marble Mountain in late June.
The deadline for proposals was Aug. 3.
The Western Star asked for an update Tuesday on the interest from the private sector in being a part of developing Marble Mountain’s base.
No one was made available for an interview and an emailed response was provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.
The prepared statement said the department is evaluating the proposals received, but provided no details as to how many proposals there were or the nature of the developments involved in the proposals.
“As with any proposal request opportunity, government follows a comprehensive evaluation process,” the email stated. “Due to confidentiality, no further information can be provided until the process concludes.”