Time for city to support Mount Sima

Open letter to Community Services Minister Brad Cathers, On behalf of the Friends of Mount Sima we would like to thank you for the ongoing support from yourself and the Yukon government with respect to our efforts to

Open letter to Community Services Minister Brad Cathers,

On behalf of the Friends of Mount Sima we would like to thank you for the ongoing support from yourself and the Yukon government with respect to our efforts to ensure that Mount Sima is open to Yukoners this coming winter season.

As you know the new society is still required to raise additional funds to meet our budget targets. The generous commitment to match sponsorships and donations over the next three years will help us to reach our fundraising goals and leave us better prepared for the contingencies that are undoubtedly going to occur over the next three years.

As you are also aware, the new society has changed the way the mountain does business on both the revenue and expense sides of the ledger. On the expense side, we have reduced the operating budget of Mount Sima, including eliminating managerial positions as well as reducing the actual number of operating days so that the facility is focused on providing service on high-volume days, and not incurring costs when it is not busy.

On the revenue side, we have now sold close to 800 season passes compared to the 200 passes sold in 2012. We hope this 400 per cent increase is the kind of community support that city council earlier said they needed to see materialize. While we have lowered the season pass fees by 20 per cent in an effort to make the hill more affordable to all Yukoners, the net income being generated is significantly larger than what was generated in previous years by the Yukoners who use this facility.

As a result of all this work to tighten the budget and grow the community and sponsorship support, Friends of Mount Sima is now able to offer the City of Whitehorse a partnership proposal for the coming season. This will result in some 30 local jobs plus the associated local economic spinoffs, as well as the continued use of a much-appreciated facility by Yukoners and their families.

As an underfunded legacy facility of the Canada Winter Games, Sima does not receive the 50-per-cent public funding that many other facilities enjoy. It is clear that while Friends of Mount Sima is asking for 20 per cent support as opposed to 50 per cent, the operation will require some form of operations and maintenance participation from the city. Our review supports the view that the population and user base remains too small in the near-term to completely support the build that was required for the Canada Winter Games and the upgrade induced by chairlift failures in 2011.

Recognizing that the costs associated with closing down and maintaining the facility have been quoted in the $175,000 range, it would appear that the $200,000 operations and maintenance partnership required to keep the hill operating this season and contributing to the local economy would make prudent, economic sense. Just as you recently stated, we are also of the opinion that the long-term viability of the Mount Sima facility requires funding from a combination of user fees, sponsorships, donations, and support by the municipality.

Thank you again for your confidence and support.

Cristina Pekarik

Friends of Mount Sima

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