Mount Cain, located 10 kilometers outside of Woss and another 11 kilometers up a logging road, is not your average ski resort. It’s run mostly by volunteers, has a peak elevation second only to Whistler, and is far off the beaten path.
The ski hill was recently awarded $874,000 to construct a new day lodge to house services and support a move to summer operations.
The funding is a part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, including grants totalling $20 million for 38 rural projects. The response also includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, which protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.
“We are working to support economic recovery in every corner of the province, so families and communities can get through the pandemic and start looking towards their futures again,” Premier John Horgan said via news release. “These shovel-ready projects will put people living in rural British Columbia back to work immediately and support building diversified economies in their communities.”
While putting the proposal together for the grant funding was quite labour intensive for Mount Cain’s board of directors, it was officially submitted last October/November, and the province moved quickly from that point to announce the news.
Jen Lash, Mount Cain’s director of communication, was thrilled when they heard back about the funding being granted. “Our existing lodge is about 40 years old and it’s just not big enough to handle all the people that we have coming in there,” she said. “In normal years [pre-COVID] it’s quite crowded.”
She noted the ski hill has a rental shop located in the downstairs of the current lodge that needs a lot of work, and they also have a ski patrol hut that is really challenging to move patients from when they have to call for an ambulance.
“This new lodge is going to provide an opportunity for us to have more space to accommodate people, and it will actually have a view of the ski hill so parents and family members can sit and watch, which the current lodge doesn’t allow for right now. It will also have much nicer bathrooms!”
She laughed that the current bathrooms are not glamorous at all. “Composting toilets, which is one step up from outhouses, but it will be so much better to have new bathroom facilities. We’re really excited, we feel we can serve our guests much better with a new lodge.”
As for what will happen to the old lodge, Lash said while everything is still open for negotiations, “the current plan is to build the new lodge across from the parking lot so it’s closer to the hill, and the old lodge should stay where it’s at. The old lodge is still very sound, we have the accommodations upstairs, so it would be interesting to look at how we can use the old lodge as a space for people to stay in, because we are pretty much always at capacity.”
Lash was proud to say they will be aiming to have “all North Island people up there doing the work [building the new lodge], and it will hopefully create opportunities for our local economy. It’s going to take us maybe two years to build, it’s not going to be a quick one, we want to make sure we do it right. We want to think about what our guests need to ensure they have the best experience possible at Mount Cain.”
If you’re worried about the season ending early, that won’t be happening. Building won’t be scheduled to start until the season is officially over. “There will be a lot of work starting to happen over the summer,” said Lash, adding, “If people are members or just like skiing at Mount Cain, I imagine over the next year or so we will be asking for volunteers to swing a hammer and lend a hand – look for calls for volunteer help, that’s how we’ve built just about every single building up there, and every bit of volunteer work we get is greatly appreciated.”