Survey aims to shore up Sima support

Mount Sima could ride again. Last week, the Yukon government offered to pay nearly $180,000 to help pay off debts to local creditors.

Mount Sima could ride again.

Last week, the Yukon government offered to pay nearly $180,000 to help pay off debts to local creditors. Whitehorse’s ski hill closed last month after the Great Northern Ski Society, the not-for-profit that runs the city-owned hill, decided to begin dissolving.

It was deep in debt, and city council had unanimously voted against giving the organization over $600,000 so the hill would be able to open this winter. Instead, the city paid more than $190,000 to clear the debts owed on the chairlift. This means the city can lease it back to whatever group runs the hill in the future.

The government had previously offered to pay the debt on the chairlift. But when the city decided to foot that bill instead, the government chose to put these funds towards debts to local creditors, said Ben Yu Schott, director of communications for the Department of Community Services. The government and the city are still working out the details of how this money is supposed to be spent, he said.

City council will have to vote on whether or not to accept the funding, acting manager Brian Crist said this week. Council doesn’t meet again until Sept. 3.

This means there’s a tight deadline for determining if the hill will open again this winter. The Great Northern Ski Society board will decide by the end of the first week of September if that’s possible, secretary Lee Vincent said this week.

Ideally, it will be an easy decision: all debts will be paid and there will be large community support for the hill, she said. But right now, it’s not that simple. The government’s offer doesn’t cover everything the society owes. It’s in debt for between $200,000 and $250,000. The board and Yukon government are still figuring out the details of last week’s offer. The society is trying to sell some of its equipment to pay off its debts, but no one’s bought anything yet, said Vincent.

The hill needs both community support and financial stability if it is to survive, she said.

“Nobody wants to just open the hill and be in a deficit situation again,” she said.

A group of Yukoners is trying to determine just how much community support there is for the hill.

The new group, called the Friends of Sima, launched an online survey this week to see what people think about the hill, and if they’d be willing to give money and time to keep it running.

In June, a group calling itself the Friends of Mount Sima paid for a newspaper ad urging people to tell city council to support the hill. This is not the same group, said Rod Taylor, one of the survey’s organizers. The ski society board is also not involved in this survey, he said last week.

This new group was formed after the ski society hosted an information session last month to give the public a place to discuss ways to save the hill. This survey looks at coming up with short-term financial solutions. Other people are looking at long-term funding strategies and governance.

Securing funds is going to be tricky, said Taylor. The group can’t collect money until it knows the hill will be open this winter, and it can’t decide if it will open the hill unless enough people want it open.

“It makes this a bit of a chicken-and-egg (situation),” said Taylor. Once the group knows if the hill is going to open again, it will re-contact survey participants who offered to give money, he said.

But the first step is making sure the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse can see that enough people care about the hill and are willing to support Mount Sima, said Taylor.

“This is a classic Yukon situation where it really is going to take everybody. It’s going to take all parts of the community, and all parts of government to, at the end of the day, come up with a rational way to at the very least see that this great facility will be open at least for this winter,” said Taylor.

The city has always maintained the solution to the hill’s financial problems needs to come from the community. Taylor agrees.

“There needs to be a demonstration on the behalf of a lot of Yukoners that this is important to them. If it isn’t, then it shouldn’t necessarily be supported,” he said.

But people need to show their support now.

If the hill doesn’t open this season, he has a “terrible, terrible feeling that it’s going to be very difficult to get this thing up and going in another season’s time. So it’s critical now that Yukoners respond,” said Taylor.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Silver rules out HST, layoffs and royalty changes

Yukon’s financial advisory panel has released its final report

City of Whitehorse budgets $30M for infrastructure over four years

‘I think we’re concentrating on the most important things’

Yukon community liaison for MMIWG inquiry fired

Melissa Carlick, the Whitehorse-based community liaison officer for the national Missing and… Continue reading

Yukon man holds no grudge after being attacked by bison

‘The poor guy was only trying to fend off someone who he knew was trying to kill him’

Straight and true: the story of the Yukon colours

Michael Gates | History Hunter Last week, I participated in the 150th… Continue reading

Get ready to tumble: Whitehorse’s Polarettes to flip out at fundraiser

‘There’s a mandatory five-minute break at the end, just so people don’t fall over’

Alaska’s governor goes to China

There are very different rules for resource projects depending on which side of the border you’re on

Yukon survey shows broad support for legal pot

But there’s no consensus on retail and distribution models

Yukon government releases survey on the territory’s liquor laws

Changes could include allowing sale of booze in grocery stores

Get family consent before moving patients to other hospitals: NDP critic

‘Where is the respect and where is the dignity?’

Bill C-17 passes third reading in House of Commons

The bill, which will repeal controversial amendments made to YESAA by Bill S-6, will now go to Senate

White Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave

Most Read