Open letter to Chris Pekarik with Friends of Sima:
I was pleased to meet with you and other representatives of the Friends of Sima recently to understand your efforts and achievements with regards to marshalling support for the future winter operations of Mount Sima, and taking steps to develop a plan that ensures long-term viability of the ski hill.
As you know, Mount Sima ski hill assets are owned by the Great Northern Ski Society and the City of Whitehorse, who have benefited from significant capital investments in the past by both the Yukon government and the Government of Canada. The Yukon government does not provide direct operational funding for municipal facilities, and we are of the opinion that success or failure of the ski hill will depend in part on the willingness of the City of Whitehorse to provide a portion of the operational funding for Mount Sima, as it does for other municipally-owned sport facilities.
The Yukon government recognizes the role Mount Sima played in enabling Yukon to host the 2007 Canada Winter Games and the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, and the benefit hosting those multi-sport events provided to Yukon athletes, the local economy, and to promotion of Yukon as a tourism destination. We also recognize the value of the ski hill in helping make Yukon an attractive place to live.
As demonstrated by the recent support of $198,000 we provided to the City of Whitehorse to cover debts owed primarily to local businesses by the ski hill operating society, the Yukon government sees value in maintaining Yukon’s capacity to host future multi-sport athletic events such as the Arctic Winter Games.
We have heard from our sports groups the importance of the ski hill assets, and believe the continued athletic opportunities provided to Yukon children and adults by the Mount Sima facility are worthy of community support. With the future of Yukon athletes and future hosting opportunities for multi-sport events in mind, the Yukon government is prepared to help Friends of Sima have a chance to develop a viable model of community support that will sustain the ski hill into the future.
Specifically, the Yukon government will commit to providing funding to encourage and enhance your sponsorship and donation efforts to preserve the ski hill. Yukon government is prepared to provide matching dollars for new sponsorships and new donations provided by private citizens and businesses to Friends of Sima up to a total of $70,000 in 2013/14, $50,000 in 2014/15, and $30,000 in 2015/16.
In addition, given the immediate current need to address the potential sale of assets critical to the future ability of the ski hill to host specific events, Yukon government will allocate $55,000 to secure the Zaugg groomer for the ski hill use. Yukon government will act immediately to secure this asset against sale. As I offered to Mayor Dan Curtis last week, we are willing to do that through a contribution agreement which results in the City of Whitehorse owning the Zaugg groomer.
These contributions are intended to help the Friends of Sima and community supporters have a chance to get Mount Sima back on its feet, and develop a sustainable long-term business model.
The Yukon government’s commitment for matching funds is conditional on Friends of Sima becoming a registered society in good standing in Yukon, and securing an agreement with the Great Northern Ski Society to operate the facility in current and future years. We are of the opinion that long-term viability of the Mount Sima facility requires funding from a combination of user fees, sponsorships and donations, and support by the municipality. For that reason, Yukon government’s offer for matching community donations is also conditional upon the City of Whitehorse making a significant commitment to operational funding.
As you detailed in our recent meetings, it will be necessary for the Friends of Sima to attract further financial support to develop a model for sustainable winter operations. From the information Friends of Sima presented, we understand further support in the neighbourhood of $300,000 will be required from private sponsors or other levels of government, including the City of Whitehorse and potentially the Government of Canada.
In closing, let me emphasize that this funding support by Yukon government is a one-time only contribution intended to help Friends of Sima have a chance to develop a sustainable business model that preserves Yukon’s ability to host and train for future multi-sport winter events. Territorial government funding will not be part of the long-term business model for Mount Sima.
Thank you for your efforts to ensure winter events at Mount Sima have a viable future.
Brad Cathers is Yukon’s minister
of community services.