Antoine Mountain set to open
Posted: Dec 15 2014
It's been more than a decade in the making, but the long wait is almost over.
After years of determination and a whirlwind upgrade that's taken place over the past four months, the former Mount Antoine facility, which has been renamed Antoine Mountain, is expected to start welcoming skiers and snowboarders next month.
Todd Yule, who's spearheading a consortium of private investors behind the venture, said the group is aiming for a mid-to-late January opening.
“I think that's being realistic,” said Yule, noting redevelopment of the facility is still underway and that the operation will be relying solely on natural snow this season.
Although the essentials – including a new quad lift and renovated chalet – are all in place for the inaugural season, Yule said this first year will serve as a sort of pilot launch for the operation while some work continues.
He said construction of a new 7,500-square-foot out building is still underway. And Yule said rentals this season will be smaller-scale due to limited space.
Still, he said skiers and snowboarders should expect a first-class experience, noting the mountain has a true vertical of 630 feet and that the runs wind from south to north. In addition, the top of the mountain has been redesigned for an enhanced view and greater access to all runs.
“I think we have a great facility here,” said Yule, noting the upgrades represent an estimated investment of some $5 million.
The former Mount Antoine facility closed due to financial challenges more than 14 years ago. And Yule's group, which purchased the facility in 2003, has been working ever since to get the redevelopment off the ground. There were a lot of facets to the project that needed to come together behind the scenes. And a $1 million contribution from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, which was announced in July, came as a major boost.
He acknowledged that ski operations can be challenging due dependance on weather. But Yule said his group has done a lot homework and is confident Antoine Mountain will be a success.
He said pointed to a number of other profitable privately-operated ski resorts and noted that Antoine has a catchment area of between 400,000 and 500,000 people to draw from.
Although the group's primary focus is on getting the ski facility up and running, he said there are also plans to operate during the off season utilizing the the chalet for banquets and others events. In addition, Yule said there are opportunities for hiking and biking, as well as potential for future development of additional abutting lands that have been acquired, including a second mountain peek which exceeds 750 vertical feet.
The mountain, which launched its website Friday at antoinemountain.ca with ticket information and other details, will operate Thursdays through Sundays.
Although the redevelopment is still unfinished, Yule said an incredible amount of work has been completed in a short period of time.
Helicopters were used to transport concrete the top of the mountain for the installion of the lift – a job that was made even more difficult due to heavy rain this fall. New high-voltage electrical services have been installed at the site and upgrade to the chalet include waterproofing of the building, restored deck, new toilets, sinks and taps, refinishing and updating and pellet stove to supplement the heating system.
Once completed, the new out building will house retail space, rentals and a ski school, as well as groomers and other equipment. In addition, a new communications tower is expected to be installed nearby.
The lion's share of materials and labour for the redevelopment has been local. And the mountain is expected to create a number of jobs, including those required for operation and maintenance of the ski facility and culinary staff.
Jeff McGirr, director of the Mattawa-Bonfield Economic Development Corporation, said his agency is working with the mountain and other local businesses to put together tourism packages for the area, including options for transportation, that will be rolled out later this winter.