BONNYVILLE – As the ski and snowboarding season gets under way at Kinosoo Ridge Resort, the MD of Bonnyville council voted to maintain current COVID guidelines at Kinosoo Ridge Resort, with the acknowledgement that these guidelines can and likely will change over time.
Kinosoo Ridge Resort, which opened for the season on Dec. 18, has been operating as a non-Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) and will continue to do so for now. However, during a regular council meeting on Dec. 22 it was noted that public health measures at the ski hill could change based on provincial policies.
Prior to the council meeting, administration was preparing for the possibility of moving the Kinosoo Ridge to a hybrid of REP and non-REP for indoor and outdoor spaces. On Dec. 21, the day before council made a decision on the ski hill’s pandemic control measures, the Government of Alberta removed the option for ski hills to operate under a hybrid model.
Some facilities such as Rabbit Hill in Edmonton had already been operating with a hybrid model when the provinces disallowed the practice in mid-December, Bowen Clausen, the director of parks, recreation and culture for the MD, told council.
With a mixed approach currently off the table until more information can be sought by Alberta Health Services (AHS), council agreed to leave the current pandemic measures in place until further notice.
This means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can use the Kinosoo facility, however, there are several guidelines that users should know before hitting the hill.
Kinosoo Ridge will not be requiring proof of vaccination but will be limited to one-third capacity rules.
Face masks and coverings are mandatory both inside the chalet and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Accepted face coverings include almost anything that covers the mouth and nose, such as scarves, balaclavas, neck warmers and buffs.
The rental shop remains open, but goggles will no longer be available for rent.
There will be no lockers or cubby space available, and there is no indoor dining at the resort. The kitchen will be open for takeout only, and all queues will be socially distanced.
Outdoor warm-up tents have been set up for patrons to eat and keep warm. The second-floor dining area will be used as a socially distanced warm-up area, however, masks must be worn at all times and no eating or drinking will be permitted inside the building.
Washroom capacity will be limited to help maintain social distancing, so outside washroom facilities have been set up to reduce crowding indoors.
Other health measures that are in effect can be found on the Kinosoo resort website.
Balancing the finances
Clausen noted that by selecting any of the options, the financial impact is uncertain. During his research, Clausen found that ski hills implementing the full REP program had higher food and beverage sales but had to refund nearly 75 per cent of early season passes.
If Kinosoo Ridge had been allowed to implement a hybrid REP and non-REP model, food and liquor sales would likely increase, but this would be offset by the cost of bringing on additional staff to implement the program and check for proof of vaccination at various entry points, CAO Al Hoggan told council.
By keeping Kinosoo Ridge as a non-REP facility it will allow all MD residents and those travelling in from other places, such as Saskatchewan and Lloydminster, to continue using the facility while keeping the kitchen open, Hoggan added.