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SAM Magazine-Montreal, Que., July 7, 2008-In a bid to jumpstart capital improvements at ski resorts in Quebec, the Canadian government has developed a loan program to enable private ski areas presenting a sound business plan for modernization and equipment replacement projects to access loans up to $4 million, repayable over a maximum period of 15 years.

According to the Quebec Ski Areas Association (ASSQ), "the ever increasing operational costs, combined with the reluctance of financial institutions to support infrastructure investment projects, have resulted in a situation where Quebec's ski resorts are falling behind."

The problem is not solely the result of the meltdown of the capital markets. ASSQ describes the financial health of Quebec's ski areas as "fragile and alarming," and notes that in general, "profitability did not provide enough resources for lifts and snowmaking upgrades." ASSQ adds that "the total investment in strategic assets, excluding real estate, have been in constant decline over the past three years."

"The industry has been waiting for a clear signal from the government," said Claude Péloquin, president and CEO of ASSQ. Added Charles Désourdy, owner of SkiBromont and member of the ASSQ board of directors, "We now have a partner to assist us in our projects which will enhance the overall experience of our customers. I'm very pleased with the government's intervention, which demonstrates its capacity to act diligently in our industry through this provincial investment program."

The news comes on the heels of a winter in which Quebec's ski industry recorded an attendance of approximately 7.1 million visitors, more than a third of Canada's total. \