BY AUSTIN PAYEUR
TOWN & COUNTRY NEWS
Nitehawk Year-Round Adventure Park says it plans to re-open for the 2020-21 winter season despite being hit with a double whammy this year.
Administration is working to develop long-term solutions to stabilize a slope on the west side of the ski hill after it suffered significant damage in a landslide in May. The park has also grappled with COVID-19.
“We still don’t have an accurate number for what repairs will cost,” says general manager Johnathan Clarkson.
“Right now we’re working with Parkland Geotechnical Ltd. to determine if we’ll remediate the slope, or if we’ll have to move forward in some other form.”
Clarkson said three of Nitehawk’s four lifts are still in operation.
Nitehawk will offer skiing and snowboarding on the top of Showoff Run, the Halfpipe, Willoway and Bob's Bump Runs and the Terrain Park area.
The Aquatera Tube Zone, the Adventure Zone Toddler Play Area and the Aquatera Toddler Tube Lane will also be open.
The ski slopes will open under increased guidelines to promote health and safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19, although Clarkson is waiting for guidance on what it’ll look like.
Clarkson says he’s waiting on word from the Canada West Ski Area Association, who’ll be providing a book of practices and guidelines that will be followed by ski slopes across the province.
“We’re in a holding pattern to find out what all those guidelines will look like,” says Clarkson.
“I can say for sure our rental shop will look different, and we’ll be using online booking for lift tickets and the like.”
During the summer season, the core team that has remained to operate Nitehawk’s RV Park and other summer operations have continued practising social distancing and hand sanitization.
“We’re preparing ourselves,” says Clarkson.
“Safety for our guests and staff is our number one priority, and when we do open for the winter season, we’ll continue to operate as we have in the summer.”
Prior to the landslide, County of Grande Prairie council granted Clarkson’s request for $43,750 of a $113,250 capital grant approved in January be reallocated to compensate for the loss of revenue during the pandemic.
Nitehawk also receives $50,000 annually for operations through the county’s community assistance grant program. Clarkson says all of that funding will be put towards annual utility costs, including fuel, natural gas and electricity.
“Even right now, our monthly power bills are up to $12,000 a month,” says Clarkson.
“We peak in the winter season, and that overhead follows us throughout the year.”
Nitehawk hasn’t reached out to the county or surrounding municipalities for any emergency funding, he says.
Clarkson says Nitehawk staff is currently looking at developing a landslide recovery fund to get the hill back to full operation in the 2021-22 winter season.
As part of this fund, Nitehawk will be partnering with the Grande Sunset Theatre to host the Annual Comedy Nite alongside an online raffle, as well as an online $10,000 50/50 draw.
(Photo supplied by Highland Helicopters)
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