© The Western Star
Mandi Young enjoys a run on the mountain at Marble in this March 3 file photo.
Many local skiers and snowboarders have taken to social media to express frustration at the timing of Marble Mountain’s closure.
The hill closed for the season Sunday but, with plenty of snow still on the slopes, many users have posted on the Marble Mountain Accountability Coalition’s page on Facebook, claiming the hill should still be open.
The social media group has more than 160 “likes” as of Wednesday afternoon, and while the group is looking for improvements in a number of areas at Marble, many user comments say the slopes were simply shut down too early this year.
One longtime skier who’s spoken up about the issue is Joe Dicks of Steady Brook. Dicks has had a ski pass for more than 20 years. He said the closure this year, combined with low volumes of skiers, amounts to another missed opportunity for the resort.
“As far as I’m concerned, closing during a weekend where there’s an opportunity is a problem,” Dicks said Wednesday. “When you have something to sell and you can’t sell it, that’s a shame isn’t it?”
Dicks said the provincial government has placed too much emphasis on making Marble a four-season resort when the bulk of its revenue comes during the three months the hill is open to skiers and snowboarders.
With the cafeteria and bar not being fully used, and with passes getting more expensive, he said the time has come for a solid operational review.
“It has less to do with skiing and more to do with running the four-season mandate,” he said. “I’m here to support the ski hill. If the government wants to be involved with developing a regional economic driver, then they need to support that vision with funding.”
Dicks hopes the Facebook page can help lead to a larger discussion about how to run the hill in a more efficient, user-friendly manner.
“People are asking why it isn’t better than it is,” he said. “That’s enough of a question to say let’s have a look at this and see what we need to do to make this opportunity real.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the public asking questions.”
Marble general manager Chris Beckett said there were discussions in early March about keeping the hill open into April, but it would simply be too costly to do so.
He said guest interest tends to wane at this time of the season and to remain open, even with less than the full crew of 120 employees and reduced runs or hours, wouldn’t be fiscally responsible.
“We run out of skiers and snowboarders before we do snow,” Beckett said. “Even with one lift, there’s a lot of people you need behind the scenes to be operating”
Beckett said he is aware of the disappointment among users and said he appreciates the passion and desire they have to continue using the slopes.
Representatives with the Marble Mountain Accountability Coalition were contacted Thursday but would not do an interview until after they met to discuss the issue as a group. They expect to speak publicly today.