New Hope For Cape Smokey
by RON BETTS
The song “Rise Again,” by songwriter Leon Dubinsky, is an anthem for the resiliency of the Cape Breton spirit. Those lyrics will hopefully ring true for skiers in the northern part of Cape Breton Island, where it was recently announced that the Cape Smokey ski area had been sold to a group of Czechoslovakian investors. That news means skiers could soon be rising again at one of Atlantic Canada’s most revered ski areas.
The group, Cape Smokey Holding Ltd., which is led by NYC-based, Czechoslovakian-born, businessman Joseph Balaz, plans to revitalize the flailing ski area with a multi-million-dollar investment that includes a gondola, long-term infrastructure like snowmaking and lodge facilities, and an elevated tree walk, consisting of a series of 20m-high boardwalks and 40m observation tower. When complete, the project promises to turn Smokey from a non-viable ski-only product to a thriving four-season destination.
The $370,000 price tag for the property, while less than the cost of a condo at many destination ski resorts in Canada, is contingent on the investment group maintaining a winter ski product. Work on the site has commenced and if all goes well, skiers will be riding a gondola to the top again by the winter of 2021.Cape Smokey, Nova Scotia