By Kendall King
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter- Medicine Hat News
The fate of Hidden Valley Ski Resort for the 2021/22 winter season is up in the air.
Southern Alberta Newspapers reported earlier this year that the province was looking for a private contractor to take over operations of the resort.
There have been several interested parties, notably Castle Mountain Resort, however it is unknown whether any bids have been placed. The closing date for bids was Sept. 7 and any operator looking to take over for the upcoming season would need to start preparing.
If no one assumes the operation, Hidden Valley will remain closed this season, affecting local ski and snowboard enthusiasts as well as anyone wanting to take part in outdoor activities.
Hidden Valley has been a haven for local residents since its opening in the 1960s. It offers recreational activities to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, and also hosts students and corporate groups.
An official from the Elkwater Ski Club emphasized the importance of accessibility to regional ski slopes.
“For many in our region, skiing at Hidden Valley is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors in the winter. For families who are part of Elkwater Ski Club, it is about (community building) and resiliency. Whether we’re learning new skills, chatting on the chair lift, or hosting a race, skiing together provides a constructive social outlet and makes even the coldest days fun.”
The official says “Hidden Valley’s operational status is of great interest” and the club is “eagerly awaiting news of the 2021/22 ski season.”
Deborah Forbes, artist, educator and trustee for Medicine Hat Public School Division, remains hopeful Hidden Valley will open.
“With family members involved in skiing and snowboarding, I know how many (people) would be devastated if ‘the Hill’ didn’t open this season,” Forbes told Southern Alberta Newspapers. “In our little corner of southeastern Alberta, access to outdoor winter sports is essential to the physical, mental and emotional health of so many. Very few families can afford trips to the mountains. Elkwater is our accessible jewel.”
Forbes says outdoor activities, such as those offered at Hidden Valley, are great options during the pandemic as it allows for social distancing.
South Alberta Newspapers has reached out to Alberta Parks and was provided this statement a day after (Oct. 28) the story came out.
“Alberta’s government is working to advance sustainable partnerships for recreation, conservation and education. The Request for Proposals to operate the Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Cypress Hills Provincial Park closed earlier (last) week. Alberta Parks is currently reviewing its options for the upcoming season and determining its next steps.”