Riding Mountain National Park - McCreary, Manitoba, Canada
So much more than just a ski area!
Above... March 7, 2009
MAJOR NEWS ALERT !
CJOB NEWS with Richard Cloutier and Kathy Kennedy - June 4, 2014...
CJOB's Richard Cloutier and Kelly Rose visiting Agassiz site December 2009
Dauphin Herald June 17, 2014
For Immediate Release
Parks Canada Reviewing Proposal to Reopen Mount Agassiz Ski Hill in Riding Mountain National Park
June 3, 2014 Wasagaming, Manitoba Parks Canada
Following the successful conclusion of a Request for Proposal (RFP) process on May 30, Parks Canada today announced that it has received a proposal to reopen Mount Agassiz Ski Area in Riding Mountain National Park. Parks Canada is committed to a timely review of the submitted proposal in accordance with the evaluation process defined in the RFP and will determine within 120 days whether there is a successful proponent.
Parks Canada’s goal is for a successful outcome that will lead to a long-term financially and operationally successful business that delivers exceptional visitor experiences, creates unique educational opportunities, and protects the environment.
A key component of the RFP process is confidentiality to protect the integrity of the process and the interests of the parties that have submitted proposals. As such, Parks Canada will not discuss these matters until the
January 14, 2014...Mount Agassiz in Riding Mountain NP had an epic amount of accumulated snow coverage today...2 1/2 feet of un-drifted and light...
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Mount Agassiz Ski Area Update – December 31, 2013
Although you may not be hearing too much about the process to redevelop Agassiz Ski Area, please be assured Agassiz Mountain Development Group and it’s partners continue to work proactively towards offering a realistic and obtainable proposal to Parks Canada this spring (due May 30, 2014).
We now have specifically related expertise working on numerous elements required to offer what will be a showcase of outdoor recreation, interpretation and education.
Our team continues to grow and we invite you to offer your expertise and input towards this project. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to become involved in creating Manitoba’s alpine snowsport and summer recreation playground...prairie-dise!
Press Release -
First Steps Commence to Redevelop Mount Agassiz Ski Area
Slicing and dicing the iconic and historic Medicine Rock Café (St.Francois Xavier) for it's move to another property. Now wouldn't this 2-story 150 seater restaurant be a cool addition at a ski resort?
History and Rationale of Agassiz Mountain Development Group
By Kelly Rose, Founder – Agassiz Mountain Development Group (AMDG)
A Personal Observation…
During the summer of 2006 I began research in order to determine why Agassiz had not been operated since it’s closure in 2000.
It was in spring 2000, on it’s last day of operation of nearly 40 years, that I sat with Hersh Lerner and discussed the reasoning in his foregoing the business. We discussed the current market conditions of which would be costly to counteract, and some infrastructure improvements that were cost prohibitive in the then current Manitoba market. Ironically, I had just left my position in the opening year of a near-by resort, which was also a factor as its large influx of provincial and federal funds made for advantages difficult and costly to compete with.
On this last day of operations at Agassiz, I had brought members of my staff to experience a different venue. All were overwhelmed and all conceded, even with it’s lack of coverage due to an early spring, Agassiz’s terrain and lay-out was clearly superior to any other in the prairies.
It was at this time I returned to my position at Lake Louise Ski Area (where I had taken a hiatus) for the remainder of the spring ski season.
It was 2003 that Dauphin skier Ray Lofgren skied up to me at Lake Louise and was elated to tell me the McCreary 2000 Group had secured the purchase of assets from the Receiver and Agassiz would soon be operating again. I was very happy and proud the hills I grew up on, worked many events on, discovered many rural friendships, and helped develop for the Canada Winter Games would again welcome skiers to it’s slopes. Yet, it was soon after I heard word that a Russell Numbered Company had countered and thus became the secured creditor (and, somewhat misrepresenting themselves as new owner of the assets and lease). I, and most others, imagined they would operate Agassiz in conjunction with their local resort as they had long known it was not realizing the forecasts of the Winnipeg market – simply too far for day excursions. The two resorts would surely complement themselves and revitalize the Winnipeg market – which diminished very quickly upon the closure of Agassiz. Retailers and Tour Operators felt their businesses hit a brick wall and the results of such are still felt and known today.
From 2005 to 2007 (Receiver discharged on behalf of October, 2004) it became obvious why this Numbered Company was not operating Agassiz. The misinformed belief was it intended to “keep the competition out of market” – I can offer my respect and pride for what the Russell group has achieved for their community and the sport by stating that is not simply the case. Circumstances that derive from such/or any business operation often dictate whether expansion is feasible, if even possible. Business Plans and expectations must be flexible to change as these circumstances change…no matter what best laid plans and expense had been made. The success of any outdoor business operation hinges very much on the weather…few others as dependent on favorable weather and fickle as a ski resort operation.
In noting the success hinging solely on a ski operation, our conceptual plans required to offer a diverse range of recreation activity and experiences to encourage as large a portion of the surrounding communities, and the province as a whole, to utilize the facilities as possible. A simple ski resort may struggle to sustain itself in today’s diverse recreation market whereas there is so much opportunity to enjoy a person’s alternative “passion” most anywhere in the province. Relying on only the ski market will not encourage realistic business growth/sustainment in the communities.
Yes, Agassiz is unique, outstanding, and without comparison as the finest location to go skiing and boarding in the prairies, but alternative activities like horseback riding, X-C, or mountain biking can be enjoyed most anywhere and often with little or no cost for use of facilities (trails). Yet, with the Agassiz ski area being the driver, vast and diverse activity can flourish and further attract in becoming a showcase of outstanding recreation opportunity in our province. The “draw” the ski resort will create will offer the affordability to encompass and market any lesser viable activities. The alternative activities and experiences must be marketable for the enticement and benefit of a much broader market than simply those that will frequent the area and communities for skiing and snowboarding. This is the required trend in today’s ski resort industry in order to sustain a viable and progressive operation (in fact, this applies to the entire tourism industry sector).
However, several organizations did make attempts to purchase but were either mislead, frustrated, or unprepared for such a challenge, and thus were discouraged in proceeding any further. Thus, we secured investors and a four-season business plan to present to whom we determined were the true owners of the area and assets - Parks Canada on behalf of the citizens. We were within weeks of presenting such when Parks Canada announced Agassiz would not be offered for operation in the new Management Plan (2007, for a period of 5-years).
Jumping back to earlier that year, in February of 2007, I reacted to an article written about the revitalization of the Russell area and it’s economy as printed in the Brandon Sun. Ironically, I’d likely never have come upon the four-part series article had I not been up doing further feasibility research at Agassiz that weekend. The Neepawa Banner, with Agassiz’s benefits to the communities at heart, printed my observation. The reaction was swift. The communities affected by Agassiz’s continued closure now had their eyes again opened. Not only were many feeling deceived by the previous actions, but were fast becoming educated and aware of the benefits Agassiz would bestow upon their communities – such as the ski resort at Russell had done for it's region.
During the summer of 2007, I attended a gathering in McCreary generated by the renewed interest. The meeting hall was standing room only and the support required was very obvious. Many perceptions were needed to be dispelled. The time was right to move forward but we were still not in the position to offer we had done two years of research and were in the completion phase of our initial Business Plan - prepared to present to both Parks Canada and the Russell Group. With the current lease set to expire in 2009, we felt no rush to present and would use some time to ensure all the ducks were in order to further our assessments of the infrastructure and market were as accurate and feasible as possible.
Then, in the late fall of 2007, out of the blue; the decision from Parks Canada was quietly made known.
I offer, at that time, that the state of the infrastructure at the area was somewhat as Hersh had left it. The table Hersh and I sat at in 2000 was actually as we left it…our plates and glasses undisturbed! It was at the time nowhere a total loss as it quickly has become assessed today. The secured credit had taken numerous loads of equipment including snowmaking guns, it’s snowmaking pump, the older groomer, etc. in the spring of 2007 but the buildings were somewhat secure as most believed the security system was still being monitored (it ceased when electric power terminated in 2007). There were no broken windows, any concerning leaking (a small water spot in a photo taken has festered into what it is today)…in fact, I noted the full fleet of ski and snowboard/boot rentals, as well as all the office and kitchen equipment were still remaining. Photos from 2007 clearly show the buildings were not compromised in the least.
Such was not for long, once word got out the property was no longer monitored. The degree of deterioration and damage to the property in this short time is extremely disheartening and concerning that remedial measures were not taken to prohibit and/or lessen such. I note here the state of the buildings became compromised at the time Parks Canada realized the Receiver was no longer responsible for the site and thus Parks Canada – on our behalf – took over the control, responsibility and ownership of the property. I long ago noted the ecological and environmental concerns are best addressed by responsible operation and management of the area…not by letting it sit idle. The footprint from the past has created an impact, yet with responsible measures the area could continue being the “driver” of family-friendly recreation and experiences (and all it’s attributes) in this province with no further increase, in fact some reversals with today’s best practices, on the impact of present.
The current administration of Riding Mountain National Park are proactive and enthusiastic in seeking alternatives and use of the ski area site to the benefit and enjoyment to all. We hope to look forward in working with Parks Canada – RMNP to assist on any realms in creating what surely can be a provincial showcase of recreation and ecological mentorship.
We have continued to persevere to this end, in that my research remains with no rationale as to consultations that could have determined, in 2007, that it was not in the public’s interest to have the prairie’s finest ski facility be the driver for any proposed alternative uses to enhance tourism and the economies of the East Escarpment. With effort and expense, we continue to encourage groups such as ski-jorers, mountain biking, alpine ski clubs, and other special interest groups from Winnipeg and Brandon to venture for the experiences the area uniquely has to offer. All become converts and supporters of our mission.
We continue to update our on-going assessments on all aspects of the infrastructure and surrounding area, including the state of the market in Canada, and in particular, Manitoba. We continue to seek expertise and partner co-operation with other “proposed use-interest groups” on all areas of our conceptual plans for a clearer understanding and a common, realistic vision within all parties. Liaison with First Nations communities are on-going with expectations offering exciting benefits/opportunities to all involved, including the end-user – the public.
The opportunities for vibrant experiences in unique outdoor recreation, adventure, education, and interpretation are near boundless in the McKinnon Creek area of Riding Mountain National Park. Yet, be the area operated by a community or business venture, these alternative activities simply will not sustain themselves individually (or as a collective) without the visibility, marketability, and the “driver” effect the ski facility would have.
The Agassiz Mountain Development Group, being a “not-for-profit” entity, has from the onset of this mission been securing resources and equipment, as well as public, business, industry, and government support and future partnerships by educating and often versing the attributes and possibilities this mission can offer... all with realistic goals and expectations in consideration to the market and present conditions in our economy and climate concerns.
To this end, we are prepared and anxious to offer the Agassiz Mountain Development Group conceptual plans and working paper Business Plan. Note that the future operation of the ski facility is offered first and foremost in determining the viability and sustainability of the conceptual plan and it’s alternative activities.
Kelly Rose, July 2009
By: Staff Writer
Posted: 08/30/2013 1:00 AM
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.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2013 A11
Mt. Agassiz Ski Hill Update - July 27, 2013 CKDM Dauphin Radio
Parks Canada hopes to be taking proponents’ ideas for the Agassiz ski area starting this August. Roger Schroeder, Manager of External Relations at Riding Mountain National Park, says it’s taken longer than expected, but they are going full speed ahead. Some people in the McCreary area are upset that the January deadline was missed. Kelly Rose from Agassiz Mountain Development Group says there has been very little communication from Parks Canada, which is hurting the community’s confidence in the Parks’ transparency.
Winnipeg cycling and ski store closing after 52 years
Friend and Agassiz Mountain advocate Dave Irwin (Crazy Canuck/World Cup Champion downhiller) rips a day at Sunshine Village with members of AMDG.
Agassiz Mountain Development Group supports...
February 12, 2013...Google Maps, under contract with Agassiz Mountain Development Group, are re-mapping the past blurred visual, lifts and trails at Agassiz Ski Area. This is a 3-month process...watch for final results.
Zoom into base area to see extent of the creek rehabitation...
February 10, 2013...This week: our perspective on summer activities and it's viability at Agassiz as well as the issue on the culvert collapse and the problems that entails. In the meantime, catch the wind with our zip-lining/canopy adventures partners (click)... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QCxPi7jtx4 ...testing the new "Superman Harness".
February 9, 2013...The letter below entised me to re-post "Agassiz...A New Perspective":
(very much edited and shortened as we need give very much credit to others also)
"The other day, I stopped at another abandoned home, one of my hobbies, and again, there was a pair of skis in there. There are always skis. Those skis are as much a part of the history of the area as horses. And you (AMDG), are an important part of all of that history. You worked hard to see it re-open. I have read every word you have ever written on the issue and is available on the net. Your efforts and passion were extreme. If that ski hill ever re-opens it is largely because of you (AMDG) and we all know it. There is presently a strong indication that this is to take place. The sources are pretty good and a park announcement is due. Please get back on board. There is no-one else that can do so and keep that in the public eye.
It will be, and there will be funding, and community support, and infrastructure, if the park re-opens the hill. It is not only the hill itself but without it, the area will never work with the park. Their instinct told them that. This area is soon to become the flavor of the month but the communities might be treated with respect this time. When that ski hill reopens, give us a job."
Oh yeah...we're still on board!
December 28, 2012 - Additions have been made to "The 100 Considerations" page.
For those watching this from the outside, this new “Reasons” page will show all (of which a person of interest might not have considered) the escalating costs and some realistic concepts (and the limitations) to 4-seasons facility.
AMDG has and will remain passionate towards seeing Agassiz redeveloped. In the end, no matter who puts up the efforts we just want to see it happen...
As most might not be aware AMDG have distanced ourselves as future proponents in redeveloping Agassiz. That's not to say we do not wish to be proponents yet there are simply STILL too many unresolved issues that can make the project unobtainabtle. Such should have been resolved long ago...in fact should never have been allowed to be factors in the first place (much more detail on that when new webpage commences).
This is also not to say we don't advocate in seeing the resort redeveloped but we always versed it could not be achieved without being realistic, resourceful and practical.
AMDG shall remain to advocate yet from the onset I versed
"there's are 100 reasons to see Agassiz re-operate, yet there are 100 reasons that it should/might not".
Those reasons ("considerations") have been more realized at this time and even furthermore after many projections had now come to fruition. This last summer I encountered health problems after being side-swiped by a car while cycling in Winnipeg. Now that my health and time is getting better I will summarize that shortly in a new topic that illustrates the road blocks;
"The 100 Considerations It Might Not".
In revamping the website many can understand there is information of disverse subjects all relative to the big picture in not only Agassiz, but the east escarpment opportunities, Parks Canada, and much more. I shall try to "site page" topic these individually...it's quite a picture to paint.
In the end the factors that kept Agassiz closed and unobtainable between 2003 to the present should be known. There should be accountability to what transpired while the Agassiz leasehold should have been under the public trust by Parks Canada and kept from the benefit of the communities. The "back story" is incredible...
I gratefully appreciate all the interest shown with the number of visits this site receives daily. Hard to believe whereas Agassiz not even an operating area yet this site is reviewed by hundreds weekly...even in the summer!
Daily blogs, topics, concerns and replies to skiagassiz.com emails will also be addressed on a time-line site page called, again, Coffee Chat.
In Reflection...CJOB preamble interview at Agassiz prior to live studio chat...recall it is dated from 2009. Where are we now?
Mount Agassiz Surveys Boast Positive Response - Chris Tataryn, Neepawa Press
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