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Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists – Canada News – Castanet.net

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CALGARY – Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins in about two months are being forced to balance profits with protecting the health of their guests in view of a COVID-19 pandemic that shows few signs of ending.

Although medical experts agree there’s little chance of infection while flying through the powder on a steep double-black-diamond ski run, they say the risk increases dramatically when riding a packed gondola to the top of the hill or enjoying an apres ski cocktail in a jammed resort bar.

Resorts say skiers and snowboarders will have to wear masks on lifts and gondolas and when indoors and social distancing will be encouraged by removing tables and chairs in bars and restaurants. They are vowing more frequent cleaning and sanitizing.

But few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill, a prospect that worries Dr. Stephen Freedman, a child health researcher and professor in the department of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

“The ski hills have a responsibility to control the number of people that are on the hill and that number cannot be as high as it was pre-COVID,” he warned.

Gondola loading is particularly tricky for Sunshine Village ski resort in Banff National Park, where the only way for guests to get from the parking lot to the main ski area is by taking a 17-minute ride in an eight-person gondola car.

“As the gondola is our main lifeline, when it is busy we will be loading it to capacity,” said spokeswoman Kendra Scurfield in an interview.

“We tried limiting capacity in the spring prior to being closed for COVID and we found the lineup was more of a hazard. People weren’t social distancing in line, it backed onto to the road, it just became more dangerous than loading people up.”

Sunshine also won’t limit overall skier numbers, she said, but aims to reduce crowding by offering an afternoons-only season pass for the first time this year to encourage people to arrive later in the day. It’s also erecting two large tents and opening a little used building to allow guests to warm up without entering its common areas.

At Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, B.C., hiking, biking and sightseeing guests were able to load the eight-man gondola from the base lodge to the top of the mountain at capacity during the summer if they had appropriate face masks, said Matt Mosteller, spokesman for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.

It hasn’t been decided if that will also be allowed this winter, he said, adding that operator Resorts of the Canadian Rockies is still working on the fine details of COVID-19 rules for its six resorts in B.C., Alberta and Quebec.

Plans could change, he said, but the company so far is not intending to restrict the overall number of skiers at its resorts.

Meanwhile, at destination resort Whistler Blackcomb, 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, no formal limits have been placed on the number of guests allowed on the hill but the expectation is that numbers – which can reach 35,000 people on busy days – will be 10 to 20 per cent lower, said spokesman Marc Riddell.

Passholders will be given preference to reserve a lift ticket and daily tickets will be available online only if there’s sufficient capacity. Staff will restrict the number of guests on lifts and gondolas so that unrelated parties have sufficient social distancing, Riddell said.

The lockdowns last March eliminated as much as 25 per cent of the season for some mountain resorts, said Christopher Nicolson, CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, which represents 92 ski hills west of the Manitoba-Ontario border.

Limits on international travel pose a major challenge because 10 to 30 per cent of skiing guests are from outside of Canada, he said. On the other hand, Canadians will find it harder to travel outside the country this winter, so that could result in more domestic ski visits.

Canadians are able to take lessons from the mixed 2020 ski season in Australia which is just wrapping up now.

In an email, Colin Hackworth, CEO of the Australian Ski Areas Association, said the ski industry in that country went into the season in June vowing to present a simplified and comprehensive COVID-19 operating plan.

“In Australia, the resorts worked to a 50-per-cent-of-normal capacity constraint, and limited capacity by way of selling/distributing online passes only,” he said.

There were setbacks, Hackworth said, including COVID-19 outbreaks that resulted in bans on travel from Melbourne to ski resorts in Victoria state and resulting in the closure of two ski resorts after only a few days.

He added the 2020 season was “probably the worst Australian snow season on record,” which meant some resorts were forced to close earlier than usual.

Dr. Freedman said he thinks it will be difficult for Canadian ski hills to maintain proper cleansing and social distancing this year and he’s not happy about plans to pack eight people in a gondola.

But he knows of at least one skier who will be hitting the slopes anyway.

“I’m an avid skier, I intend to be skiing this winter. But I also intend to do it wisely and to use precautions.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 28, 2020.

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Alberta exempts energy companies drilling wells or building pipelines from property taxes for three years – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

But the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) warned that the models under considerationwould cause “potentially devastating impacts on rural Alberta” and could cost rural municipalities more than $290 million in 2021 alone.

Allard said Monday the government would not be choosing any of those previous models.

Instead the government estimates its three-year plan will save the industry between $81 and $84 million.

“These measures are intended to provide much needed certainty to industry investors, municipalities, and other taxpayers for the next three years,” Allard said.

Meanwhile, Allard said the government will be startinga longer-term review of the system, including the ongoing issue of energy companies’ unpaid property taxes.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the property assessment values being used under the current system are not accurate so he doesn’t view the changes for the next three years as a tax break.

“This is an interim measure, as we’re working to correct a broader system issue that has built up over a very long period of time,” he said.

RMA president Al Kemmere said he hasn’t crunched the numbers yet to see exactly how much municipalities will lose under this plan but said it will be “nowhere near what we were looking at under the proposals.” He said he believes members of the association are willing to do their part.

Kemmere saidunpaid taxes continues to be his organization’s top priority and that some members are on the cusp of not being able to pay their bills. Municipalities estimate they are owed approximately $173-million.

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OPEC Is On The Brink Of A Crisis – OilPrice.com

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OPEC+ Is On The Brink Of A Crisis | OilPrice.com

Cyril Widdershoven

Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle…

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    The OPEC+ member countries are on the brink of a financial crisis if the latest assessments of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are accurate. The IMF has presented a very bleak outlook for an economic recovery in the Middle East and Central Asia, predicting a 4.1% contraction for the region. The main driving factor behind this bearish outlook is the IMF’s forecast that oil prices will remain in the $40 to $50 range in 2021. An extension of the current low oil price environment for another year would badly hurt oil and gas exporting countries, which includes all of the OPEC+ members. In its statement, the IMF predicted an economic contraction of 2.8% in April for the Middle East and Central Asia. IMF director Jihad Azour highlighted a large disparity in the projected economic loss of oil-importing and exporting countries, forecasting a negative 6.6% growth for oil-exporting countries, compared to a contraction of 1.3% for oil-importing countries. With many of the OPEC+ members being rentier-states, the need for higher oil prices cannot be overstated. A vast part of the government budgets of OPEC member states depends on oil and gas-related revenues. As such, all OPEC countries are looking at significant budget deficits this year, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. Former OPEC member Qatar is in a similar situation, even as it tries to mitigate the damage by increasing its LNG exports. As both oil and gas demand has seen significant demand destruction this year, prices for both have plunged. At present, Brent oil prices are still 40% below their pre-COVID levels.  There is little hope of a significant rise in prices any time soon as global oil and gas storage volumes are still at historically high levels, and demand looks set to dip again due to new COVID-related lockdowns and a further economic recession. The frequently cited breakeven price for the Saudi government budget is $80 per barrel, although Saudi government budget discussions seem to revolve around an oil price of $50. Iraq has also stated that it expects price levels of $50 per barrel for 2021. These optimistic predictions seem to be based solely on Chinese post-Covid economic figures, which have proven to be highly untrustworthy and don’t take into account the fact that global demand for Chinese products will also need to pick up. The impact of the second wave of COVID cases in Europe and America will undoubtedly hurt this demand for Chinese goods. Related: Biden’s $2 Trillion Energy Plan Could Crush Natural Gas

    But of all the parties that will suffer from low oil prices and the continued impact of a global pandemic, OPEC+ members will suffer the most. Some oil and gas producers were already in a dire financial situation before COVID, including Libya and Venezuela. The major oil market contango and storage glut has been largely overlooked recently, but it still very much exists. Reports of demand recovery in some markets appear to be more wishful thinking spurred by multi-trillion-dollar cash injections rather than a viable economic recovery. OPEC and the IEA both agree that demand is still fledgling, having both cut world oil demand forecasts. The IEA cut its outlook for worldwide oil demand to 91.7 million barrels per day this year while OPEC brought its forecast down to 90.2 million in 2020. OPEC reiterated that future cuts could still be made.

    With the financial environment outlined above, OPEC+ members can no longer afford to base their economic stability and future on hydrocarbons alone. Economic diversification has to be put in place, even if the effects won’t be felt for years. Government budget cuts are imminent and could destabilize the region if not done prudently. OPEC+ discussions on stabilizing the market should not be focused at present on price levels or market share only. The real question is how to create a market that is resilient enough to cope with Black Swan events without toppling the current ruling elite. Instability is not only increasing in the Arab producer regions, but also in Russia where sanctions and low oil prices are taking their toll.

    OPEC+ members cannot simply bet on the death of U.S. shale as it is an industry that has proven incredibly hard to kill over the years. U.S. shale will almost certainly reemerge, possibly in a different form, but it is reasonable to assume the sector itself is far from dead. Leaders in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, and Kuwait City now have to find a way to survive. With oil at $50 per barrel in 2021, some OPEC members will be in a real crisis. With that in mind, a conventional OPEC+ JMMC statement today or tomorrow will be seen by some as a white flag.

    By Cyril Widdershoven for Oilprice.com

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      Stay Safe and Follow Public Health Advice This Halloween | Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News

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      Ontario Newsroom | Salle de presse de l’Ontario

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