THE process of reopening Mount Agassiz to skiers and snowboarders is out of the gate.
On Thursday, Parks Canada issued an official request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop the western Manitoba ski area. The hope is that the private sector, working with the national conservation and cultural agency can return the once-vibrant hill at Riding Mountain National Park into a sustainable winter or multi-season recreation destination.
"The multi-season component is different than what the ski area was prior to this," said Richard Dupuis, acting superintendent of Riding Mountain National Park. "In the past, the facility served the winter visitors quite well. We see the beautiful slopes of the Manitoba Escarpment and there's a lot of potential there."
The Mount Agassiz ski area, defined as a commercial ski area under the Canada National Parks Act, opened with a handful of runs in 1961 and went through a series of improvements in the 1970s, including the addition of a chairlift, a day lodge and an expanded trail footprint, thanks to a Canada Winter Games at McCreary, Man. in 1979.
The ski area enjoyed several successful seasons before a sharp decline in business in the early 1990s, forcing owners to close the hill in 2000. The facility has been quiet ever since.
"We have seen interest in the past (before the RFP), and we're confident we'll be able to make the hill viable," Dupuis said.
The RFP window is scheduled to last one year, with submissions accepted through the first nine months of the process. Parks Canada will review submissions and select a suitable proposal in the three months after the deadline.