A popular winter resort in Manitoba is cancelling its upcoming winter operations because drought conditions have depleted the water source it needs to make snow.

The general manager at Holiday Mountain Ski Resort in La Rivière, Man., says the dry spell that’s plagued much of the province this summer has significantly impacted the Pembina River — which is what the resort uses to make snow.

“It’s so dry, we watched a deer walk across it last night,” said Bernice Later, in an interview with CBC Manitoba’s Radio Noon on Monday. “It’s just an unprecedented condition.”

Southern Manitoba saw some rain on Monday, but Later said it’s not enough for Holiday Mountain, which is about 130 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, to start selling ski passes. 

“The ground is so dry, it’s not like any of this rain is running off into the river,” she said. “It’s just soaking into the ground. It’s soaking into the trees and thankfully making the conditions a little less terrifying for fire hazards.

“But there’s not going to be, you know, these nine or 10 feet that the river would need to come up. It’s just not possible.” 

Holiday Mountain, a ski resort in La Riviere, Man., normally hires 65 people for the winter season. (Holiday Mountain)

Like other ski hills in the province, the ski resort normally makes snow to supplement the snow base, especially in years when there isn’t much precipitation.

Holiday Mountain has a permit to divert water from from the Pembina River.

There were a couple of short seasons in the 1980s when staff couldn’t make enough snow to guarantee a full season because of drought, but this is the first time in its 60-year history that the resort has had to cancel an entire season.

“It doesn’t seem responsible to sell memberships for a service you can’t guarantee,” Later said, explaining the decision to cancel the ski season. “The best thing we could do is just be honest with our customers and our staff and plan for next year.”

Holiday Mountain staff normally use water from the Pembina River to make snow, as shown in this photo from a previous year. (Submitted by Bernice Later)

It was a difficult decision to make, she said, especially because the pandemic has hurt their bottom line.

“It’s heartbreaking. I mean, we’ve been around for more than six decades. Every winter we employ 65 people. It’s going to have an enormous consequence in the local economy. We’re all feeling it,” Later said.

The Pembina River on Monday, left, is much lower than it was in the summer of 2020. Holiday Mountain can’t pull enough water from the river to make snow for its 2021 winter season, Later said. (Submitted by Bernice Later)

Later hopes the ski resort will be back up and running in December 2022.

Other Manitoba industries have also been hurt by the drought.

Drought impacts agriculture

Food producers have been deeply impacted by hot weather and dry conditions.

Not only are crops drying out in fields, but grasshoppers are also destroying crops.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada surveyed Manitoba producers last week, and 60 per cent said they won’t or are unsure they will have enough feed for their animals this winter.

In Morden, Man,. an extreme drought warning is in effect, and people are being asked to cut their water use by 30 per cent.

Source From CBC News

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