blue mountain ski

Blue Mountain finally changes ski pass terms due to backlash before lockdown

Skiers and snowboarders are furious after learning that Ontario hills like Blue Mountain are being forced to close as part of the provincewide lockdown starting Dec. 26, especially because of restrictive terms on some season passes.

Customers who spent hundreds on the Collingwood resort's popular 5x7 or Ikon passes for 2020/2021 were, according to Blue's original terms, unable to get a pass deferral if they had used it to hit the slopes even once thus far.

These were the policies that winter sports lovers agreed to upon purchase, but no one was anticipating a blanket shut down that would interrupt the season and move the attraction's region, Grey Bruce Health Unit, from Yellow-Protect to the most drastic form of lockdown.

Deferrals were also not permitted on passes used just for the discount it provides on goods purchased at Blue Mountain Village retailers, meaning that some people who hadn't even stepped on the hill yet were not allowed to defer their pass to next year.

Understandably, patrons took to social media to express their disdain, especially when other comparable resorts such as Mount St. Louis Moonstone came out with more flexible policies that include full refunds for guests.

As a result of the backlash, Blue Mountain changed its tune on Tuesday, updating its rules to clarify that all 2020/21 5x7 passholders are eligible to defer their pass to the 2021/22 season at no additional cost if they have not used it on or after Dec. 23.

Skiers need simply to fill out a form on Blue's website before March 31, 2021 to do so.

Those who wish to get in a final few runs before the lockdown can still do so up until closing on Christmas night, but will have to hold out hope that the resort will be permitted to reopen for operations before the end of the winter, because they will no longer be entitled to a pass deferral if they do so.

"There is no rush to return your 2020/21 5x7 if you have registered your intention to defer by completing the form below," the team states as part of the new terms.

"You may hold on to your pass for the duration of the 2020/21 ski season. Should you change your mind at anytime, simply use your pass as normal and you'll waive your intention to defer."

Unfortunately for those who purchased the far pricier Ikon pass, the conditions for deferral appear to be the same as they always have been, with passholders unable to defer if they have visited the mountain (or any of the 44 that are part of the pass) this winter.

Though Ontario residents are still disheartened at the prospect of losing part or even the entirety of their ski season depending on how the province fares with COVID-19, there was a communal sigh of relief once the new rules were released.

"Thank you kindly for amending your deferral policy. It has restored my longstanding confidence in Blue Mountain as a leader in customer service," one user wrote in response on Facebook.

"Furthermore, it has given me hope that, throughout these troubling and uncertain times, the heart of the human spirit is still very much alive and the decency of human understanding and compassion still exists."

In the wake of Monday's announcement about the new lockdown, many Ontarians have been confounded about some of the specifics, such as those pertaining to ski hills, where physical distancing and masking are required.

One petition calling for ski hills to remain open has garnered more than a staggering 40,000 signatures in just two days.

"Skiing should be the safest sport to participate in with face coverings, mandatory space between patrons [and] riding chair lifts with only family. In a time of immense negativity, this can also help our mental health, not to mention the exercise that we all desperately want. Most ski hills have created enough rules on their own to help keep COVID at bay on the slopes," it reads.

"Historically most resorts have 3.5 months to make the money... If we are unable to support our slopes and ski hill employees we may lose some of the resorts we have due to not being able to break even this year."

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