PORT MCNEILL, B.C. – A North Island ski park has received a funding boost to improve its grounds and extend its season.

The Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) is providing a grant towards a $24,000 project at Mount Cain.

ICET will cover half of the costs, while the park will cover the balance.

“In the past few years, they’ve been facing some challenges with low snowpack at the bottom while the snow at the top is just perfect and wonderful,” said Line Robert, the CEO of the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

“They haven’t been able to open up early enough because of this, and they’ve lost significant opportunities to open earlier.”

She said the project is going to see a clean up at the bottom of the hill, including removing rocks and some re-contouring of some of the lower elevation slopes. This will enable to alpine park to open earlier than it’s been able to in years past.

“(It will allow them) to have a longer season, which means more work for the region, and a greater opportunity to ski up there,” said Robert.

She said Mount Cain is a very important economic driver on the North Island, particularly for winter tourism.

“It’s one of the only sources of winter tourism on the North Island,” she said.

“It is the largest employer of youth on the North Island, so in that respect the hill plays a very important function in the regional economy.”

She noted that it also helps draw more new residents to the area.

“Mount Cain has back great snowpack, great access to back-country skiing and powder snow, so it tends to attract a pretty young demographic,” she said.

“It is one of the factors that a lot of younger people will consider when they make the decision whether or not to move to the North Island. For the (region), it’s also a community asset that helps them draw in new residents and new businesses.”

Robert said the work is going to be happening over the summer and early fall, setting Mount Cain up for the winter season.

“Hopefully this year, Mount Cain won’t miss out on the important Christmas season, and will be able to get going earlier and create jobs for the youth for a longer period of time,” she said.

Robert said that although this is one of the smaller projects that ICET has taken on, it’s one that’s really important to the North Island and tourism in the region.

Photo caption: A file photo of Mount Cain, courtesy of Annie Danko.