Snow continues to spread its white fur in Quebec and skiers have black fun. But when ski resorts think about their future, they worry.
Posted at 9:00 am
A few weeks ago, photos of many snow-poor ski areas in Europe went around the world. Their survival is threatened by climate change. It is obvious.
Ski resorts in Quebec are not as vulnerable. But their owners just sounded the alarm. And they’re asking Quebec for help.
Temperatures are rising here too. Snow is becoming rarer and rain more frequent.
In addition, the most recent holiday season left a bitter aftertaste among ski resort operators. The snow wasn’t there as much as they would have liked.
“I can tell you the chalets were full but it was the bowling alleys and the cinemas that were busy. Not us,” said Yves Juneau, CEO of the Quebec Ski Resorts Association.
Ouranos, the Quebec Consortium for Regional Climatology and Climate Change Adaptation, published a report on the alpine ski sector four years ago.
It explained that the new climate reality represents the “greatest challenge” in the history of the ski industry.
According to this organization’s forecasts, we will still be skiing in Quebec in 2050. However, if ski resorts don’t find ways to adapt to the changes, “the opening, the length of the season and the percentage of ski resorts that are open will be affected.”
In this report, Ouranos puts more of a spotlight on the ski resorts in the eastern townships. In their case, the start of the season in 2050 will be delayed by 7 to 10 days (compared to 2020). And there are 10 to 20 ski days less over the entire season.
But don’t think that other regions are immune. All train stations will be affected by climate change in one way or another.
A study done last December for the Association des stations de ski du Québec shows that by 2050, the average number of days below freezing will have fallen across Quebec. It is in Gaspésie (21 days less than today) and in Bas -Saint-Laurent (20 days less) that the loss will be most pronounced.
The solution ? What is currently favored above all by the ski areas is the purchase of more powerful snow cannons. They could then produce snow at a higher temperature than systems, some of which date back to the 1980s, and significant electricity savings can be expected.
That’s why the province’s 31 private ski resorts want to receive $65 million from Quebec.
The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Tourism are currently examining the application.
This SOS is certainly more legitimate than the one created by the manager of Mont-Sainte-Anne, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. The latter is demanding 50 million from Quebec to modernize the station’s infrastructure, which it has been neglecting for years, as we have already regretted1.
The fact remains that Minister Fitzgibbon, speaking on the subject on Friday, rightly opposes offering tens of millions to private ski resorts “without risk-sharing”. They also need to invest to adapt to climate change.
He’s also right when he says that it’s important to consider how each station can benefit from these investments.
What must not be forgotten: the purchase of new, more powerful snow guns also means practicing in a hurry.
The important thing is to limit the rise in global temperature fairly quickly.
In Quebec, like elsewhere in the country, we have never dared to be ambitious in the fight against climate change.
The gradual disappearance of our white gold is a call for order.
A reminder “that we do not negotiate with the environment,” as researcher Hugo Séguin pointed out in his pertinent essay Letter to impatient ecologists and those who find they are exaggerating.