New owners go for new-look ski operation in Cypress Provincial Park. 

Open house tonight and Saturday to unveil plans as Cypress gets ready to host 2010 Games events.

Large tracks of old growth forest will no longer be logged to increase ski terrain for the 2010 Olympics in Cypress Provincial Park.

And the idea of building a huge restaurant and bar at the top of Strachan Mountain and a gondola to service it have also been abandoned.

The new development plan, just announced by the ski operations owner, Boyne Resorts, may finally put to rest the controversy which has plagued Cypress ever since ski operations began to expand over a decade ago.

"It sounds like Cypress is always synonymous with controversy," said John Kircher, a principle owner of Boyne Canada and president of Cypress Bowl Recreations Limited Partnership.

"My feeling is that when you are in the entertainment business you are trying to get people to have fun and that image of controversy is not a good idea. You should be associated with fun and recreation and the things your business does.

"It is time to bury this hatchet which has been flying around for so long. I really think this is one of the most important things.

"It is a chance for all the groups to come together and reach an agreement and this will relieve a lot of pressure that is on both sides and I think it results in a fantastic addition to skiing."

Kircher’s decision will take Cypress out of commercial summer business, a direction being pursued by previous owners, and outlined in their Master Plan which received government approval in July 1997.

"The plan will improve our winter business and it is going to keep us out of summer operations, which I think, is fine," said Kircher, whose father started Boyne Resorts in 1947. Today the company is the firth largest ski resort operator in North America.

"We are a skiing area and that is what we do very well. We had a record year and had a fantastic financial result."

Kircher’s announcement has been cautiously welcomed by Friends of Cypress Provincial Park Society, a watchdog group which has fought long and hard to protect the old growth forest and other areas with the provincial park.

"For Mr. Kircher to say, ‘I want to save the trees, I consider myself an environmentalist,’ that is a breakthrough," said Alex Wallace a spokesperson for the group.

"The new owner has come to the conclusion that he can save the big trees and move his development to a clear cut and still have the same skier capacity with 4,946 skiers on the mountain.


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