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.”

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read