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Upgraded Kamiskotia ski hill now competitive in province.

Upgraded Kamiskotia ski hill now competitive in province

The only ski hill in Timmins has undergone a major transformation over the past year to prepare it for competition with other resorts throughout the province.

A new base lodge and snow-making equipment have been added to Kamiskotia ski resort, 20 kilometres west of the city centre on Highway 576.

In all, $1.2 million was spent on the new lodge and the snow-making equipment.

The base lodge capacity was expanded from 126 to 280 seats. The lodge was ready for the 1989-90 ski season.

"Basically, it's a totally new building," says Dave Cormier, general manager with Kamiskotia Ski Resorts Ltd., noting that only one wall was left from the former structure.

The new lodge brought together all of the various departments of the resort, including the cafeteria, bar, lounge, locker area, rental/retail shop and administration area. All were previously in separate buildings.

Cormier explains that the snow-making equipment gives the hill a totally new system.

"A lot of people think in the north we don't need snow-making," he says.

However, Cormier explains that there are bad years for snow in the area. The worst he can recall was 1982, when the resort operated for just six weeks, with marginal snow conditions.

Normally, the area has an annual snowfall of 340 centimetres.

With the new system, the resort will operate from mid-November to mid-March.

"With snow-making, it's guaranteed excellent conditions throughout the season," says Cormier.

Last year the snow base ranged from three to five feet.

The snow-making equipment gives 75-per-cent coverage of the terrain with 18,000 feet of pipe and hydrants every 200 feet of the hill.

The snow-making equipment was installed by the resort's own employees, while construction of the new base lodge was contracted out.

During the first season of snow-making, employees had to familiarize themselves with the systems operation, explains Cormier.

Man-made snow has a different quality than natural snow, he notes. It has a higher water content, meaning that it ices up if not groomed. That is the main reason the resort is purchasing a new Snow Cat, a piece of equipment to flatten the terrain and move snow.

It is also installing two quad chairs (four-seaters), three tee bars and a wire rope tow (a platter pull). It currently has three tee bars and a one-handle platter-pull lift with the capacity to move 3,000 skiers per hour to the top of the mountain.

There has also been an upgrading of the road to the resort as well as its parking lot.

In all, the upgrading will total $2.2 million over two years.

Part of that money, $1.2 million, comes from the Tourism Redevelopment Incentive Program (TRIP) of the provincial government. That funding is a loan with subsidized interest.

The remaining cost of the investment was funded by $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

With the improvements, which result from a 1986 feasibility and planning study, Kamiskotia went from 25 full- and part-time employees in 1987-88 to 47 last season. This coming season, about 60 full- and part-time workers will be employed.

Cormier says the ski hill means more than just winter tourism in the city.

"It's not just tourism, it's the quality of life provided for people in the north."

Such a facility helps to attract professionals to settle in Timmins from southern Ontario, such as doctors for the future Timmins and District Hospital, he explains.

Winters are long in the area, but a ski hill makes it more appealing, Cormier says. "That point is just as strong as the tourism aspect of it."

The improved conditions also mean better business for Kamiskotia.

"There was a large increase in use last year," Cormier notes.

There was an approximate 30-per-cent increase in visits last year.

Most of the current visitors come from Timmins and the surrounding areas of Kapuskasing, Hearst, Cochrane and Smooth Rock Falls. However, marketing this year will be directed at Sudbury and New Liskeard.

Cormier said the ski hill is becoming better known throughout the area.

Kamiskotia has a 350-foot vertical drop, placing it among the 300-to-400-foot average range for Ontario ski hills. There are only six ski hills in all of Ontario in the 600-to-800-foot range.

"We're competitive, especially because of our terrain," explains Cormier. "We are starting to compete for the southern Ontario market."

REAL NAME

Most of the ski hills in the province are on ridges or escarpments, he notes. Kamiskotia is one of only two ski hills in the world on a mountain created by a volcanic eruption.

Although it is hardly ever called Mount Jamieson, that is the hill's real name is.

PHOTO : New snow-making equipment is just one of the major improvements at Kamiskotia ski resort in Timmins. The base lodge is also new.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Timmins Report
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Words:803
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