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Mount Sima’s general manager resigns

Gary McWaters has resigned as Mount Sima’s general manager, according to Great Northern Ski Society President Ernie Berken.

Gary McWaters has resigned as Mount Sima’s general manager, according to Great Northern Ski Society President Ernie Berken.

“He’s just not comfortable with the way things have been going,” said Berken.

“If something were to go wrong out there I guess he would feel more removed, but I don’t know if that’s the case, really.”

McWaters will remain at the hill, but only as a consultant.

He decided to step down when, after a mandatory cable test, chairs were put back on the lift without a millwright or certified lift mechanic present.

A qualified supervisor must be present as required by hill’s insurance policy.

“Myself and another person did that work,” said Berken.

“We have done that for many years. In fact, we had to show Gary McWaters and our lift mechanic how that was done.”

Berken has been working with the lift since Mount Sima was built 15 years ago.

“The insurance company requires that (a millwright), so you don’t just throw anyone in there to do that kind of work,” he said.

“They have to have some knowledge of what’s involved and we do have that knowledge, even though we are not deemed to be a millwright.”

Putting chairs back on the lift is the only work that Berken does directly.

Qualified personnel do all other work, he said.

“The issue with the chair is something that (McWaters) took issue with,” said Berken.

“And that’s something that I think is unwarranted because we had to show him how that was done because he’d never worked with this type of lift of before.”

Mount Sima’s woes have not stopped at the chairlift.

There have been problems making snow this year after equipment became clogged with gravel and debris.

And on Friday, a 40-kilogram piece of the T-bar fell nearly eight metres, barely missing skiers.

The hill has been closed since the accident and the ski society has said it will do a thorough examination of the cause and ensure all measures are taken to have the T-bar safe and back in service.

“We, as board members, are liable for what goes on out there,” said Berken.

“We do have insurance to cover us in the event that there was any gross negligence … it’ll handle any claims, let’s put it that way.”

The hill will be investigating the cause of the accident, but not much work can be done right now because of the cold weather.

“We would need to go back and look at everything that much closer to make sure that nothing like that could ever happen again,” said Berken.

“We had our mechanics on the towers and looking at the equipment, but something was missed or maybe something just came loose since that time, we’re really not sure.”

One of the problems may be gaps in the maintenance records, mostly due to high staff turnover.

“We do have records out there, but they’re not always sequential,” said Berken.

“That’s definitely something we’ll be keeping a closer eye on.

Mount Sima will not open any lift until it is completely safe to do so, he said.

He said he does not yet know whether the hill will be able to open this year and, if not, what will happen to season pass holders.

“I don’t know if we’re there yet,” said Berken.

“We have spent a whole pile of money and haven’t really generated much revenue.

“And this cold weather just adds to more costs.”