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Mount Sima slammed for funding request

Whitehorse city council has denied Mount Sima money to improve bike trails at the resort. Calling the request "arrogant," Coun.

Whitehorse city council has denied Mount Sima money to improve bike trails at the resort.

Calling the request “arrogant,” Coun. Betty Irwin, long an opponent of the city funding the ski resort, tabled a motion to deny the recreation grant Monday night.

“What’s another $23,000 between friends?’” she asked. “I still believe that we have given too much money to Mount Sima and I certainly cannot in all conscience vote to give them even another small amount.”

Last June, the city kicked in $1.6 million to help pay for the new chairlift at the ski hill.

Then, in April of this year, the Great Northern Ski Society, which operates the resort, came back to council asking for another $1.3 million to help take care of its operating deficit.

To pay for that, the city used federal funds that were originally earmarked for road-building projects.

Irwin was the lone voice of opposition to both funding requests, but this time her motion to deny the grant drew support from both Coun. Kirk Cameron and Dave Stockdale

“I’m not prepared to give any more money to it,” said Cameron. “$1.3 million, I don’t care how you cut it, is a lot of money.”

Council isn’t getting any argument from the ski society.

The city has already given the society more than enough money, said Craig Hougen, president of the ski society.

Applying for the recreation grant is something that the society does every year, but with the amount of money that the city gave to the ski hill this year, it should have been withdrawn, he said.

“I find it embarrassing,” said Hougen. “It was really an error on our part.”

Hougen didn’t even know that the application was still in process until he heard it on the news, he said.

The ski society applied for the recreation grant well before the city approved the latest $1.3-million cash infusion, he said.

“We don’t require any further funding,” said Hougen, who spent Tuesday morning calling city councillors to apologize. “It just slipped through the cracks.”

Thanks in part to the money the city has invested in the resort, Mount Sima will now operate year-round, which should allow it to finally turn a profit.

The Alpine Adventure Park, which includes zip lines, mountain biking and a ropes course through the trees, opens to the public this week.

It’s something that couldn’t have been done without the help of the city, said Hougen.

“I want to thank the city council again for their generous contributions,” he said. “We really do appreciate it.”

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