One of the largest employers in Nakusp is shutting down its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alterra Mountain Company, which operates CHM Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures in the village, announced on Saturday it was closing down early for the season.
“After careful thought and deliberation of our duty in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, and in what I believe is in the best interest of our guests, employees and local communities, Alterra Mountain Company will suspend operations at our 15 North American ski resorts, starting the morning of Sunday, March 15, until further notice,” says a news release from Rusty Gregory, the chief executive officer of Alterra. All lift operations, food and beverage, retail and rental services will be closed until further notice.”
The Lodge at Arrow Lakes, the hotel operated by CMH, employs dozens in the community and pumps millions into the economy annually.
Alterra Mountain Company runs operations in the United States and BC.
Gregory says CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures will continue to operate through Saturday, March 21 with no new guests arriving beginning Tuesday March 17.
“Each resort will work directly with guests in canceling their visit and will provide refunds or credits to those who have hotel and other bookings during this closure period,” he adds. “We are experiencing heavy call, email, and social media volume and appreciate your patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries over the coming days and weeks.”
The company usually continues operations into early April.
It’s not the only tourism operation in the Kootenays to close down as a result of the pandemic. Over the weekend, the two major ski hills in the West Kootenay — RED Mountain in Rossland and Whitewater in Nelson — both shuttered early.
One local employee says the news came as a surprise.
“Over the weekend the company I work for shut down, I lost over a month of wages (at least!) in an instant,” says Carmen Petrie. “I am unsure of our future as a direct result of COVID-19. Please Canada, at least give us some relief from bill deadlines as the economic trickle down starts to really hit the working class.”