Mt. Sima seeks more cash

Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society that operates the ski hill, wouldn’t say in an interview this morning how much they want from the city.

Mt. Sima wants money – again.

Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society that operates the ski hill, wouldn’t say in an interview this morning how much they want from the city. But he’s confident community supporters will fill the chambers at city hall.

Tonight is the public hearing for the city’s operations budget which passed first reading two weeks ago.

The ski society had been thinking about encouraging the community to come forward for about a month, said Hougen. “This budget input night was on the schedule, and it seemed like an appropriate time,” he said.

On March 6, the society posted a note on its Facebook page encouraging people to show city councillors their support of the hill. The ski society has “outgrown its ad-hoc funding model,” states the note, which is also posted on the society’s website. The society wants to “formalize a long-term core-funding strategy,” it continues.

The society receives funding from a variety of sources, and it’s hard to say who the greatest funder is, said Hougen. The amount of funding from the city changes every year, he said.

Last year, the city gave the society $1.3 million. In 2011, council doled out $1.6 million. This money went towards a $3 million chairlift for the ski hill. The old lift was from the 1970s, and it was often breaking down, said Hougen. 

Last year’s funding was also listed in Maclean’s magazine annual run-down of 99 “stupid things” the government did with taxpayer’s money.

Coun. Betty Irwin was the only one to vote against the $1.3 million the city gave last April. Council approved the funding the same night it was requested to proclaim a hunger awareness week in the city. At the time, Irwin told council she hoped promoting hunger awareness would be seen as being just as important as operating the ski hill.

At the time, Hougen said this would be the society’s last request.

More details of the society’s plan for Mt. Sima will be posted on the society’s website after the meeting, he said.

Since 2010, the city has given the society $3.53 million said city spokesperson Amos Westropp in an email. That money was reimbursed by the Building Canada Fund, a federal program, he said.

Other municipalities fund ski hills. Juneau, Alaska gives the Eaglecrest Ski Area $750,000 a year, said general manager Matt Lillard.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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