CALGARY, Alberta April 30, 2004 — Resorts of the Canadian Rockies ("RCR) announces that it will not be operating Fortress Mountain Ski Area for the 2004-2005 winter season. The next year will be spent exploring options to create a sustainable Fortress operation, with a focus on an environmentally sensitive solution to long-term viability.
"Fortress Mountain Ski Area faces significant economic challenges that makes the current operation not economically viable, says Matt Mosteller spokesman for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. "Major contributing factors include significant decline in skier visit numbers and increased operating costs due to age of the chairlifts, added Mosteller.
RCR said it intends over the next year to work collaboratively with the provincial government, leading educational organizations and others to explore what options can deliver a sustainable future for Fortress Mountain.
"Fortress Mountain in the current scenario is simply not economically viable, we cannot justify operating a resort that has lost in excess of one million dollars cash over the last two years, says Mr. Neil Jackson, General Manager of Kananaskis, at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. "With facilities and lifts in need of significant capital improvements, we have decided the best course of action is to take a step back to explore all options.
"The costs of having Fortress being responsible for maintaining the provincial government access road year around, property taxes on an assessed value that far exceeds the market value of the resort, sky rocketing insurance premiums, escalating energy costs, and government limitations precluding on-hill accommodations has resulted in Fortress Mountain being unable to generate positive cash flow to make the necessary improvements it needs to continue operations, said Mr. Jackson. " Despite substantial capital expenditures and improvements at the ski area in the Fall of 2003, Fortress for the 2003 - 2004 winter season, still could not generate enough skier visits to be economically viable, added Jackson.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies have had preliminary discussions with leading educational institutions to determine the potential of establishing a year round environmental education centre in Kananaskis.
"We believe there is a tremendous potential for environmental education to enrich visitor understanding of wildlife, flora and fauna. The site is also particularly suited to outdoor training and avalanche safety education, says Matt Mosteller.
"Kananaskis can be the heart of the Alberta recreation experience year round for people of all ages, but only if organizations work together to explore all possible opportunities. Only a concerted joint effort can provide a successful solution, while respecting the environment that we live and work in, said Matt Mosteller. "Our goal is to improve the overall visitor experience in a manner that is economically and environmentally sustainable.