New WildPlay venture could help settle Sima debt

Mount Sima's WildPlay summer adventure park might get a second lease on life this summer. A group of local investors is working with Friends of Sima to find a way to get the adventure park open again.

Mount Sima’s WildPlay summer adventure park might get a second lease on life this summer.

A group of local investors is working with Friends of Sima to find a way to get the adventure park open again.

It was closed last year after the previous society running the hill, the Great Northern Ski Society, collapsed under its debt load.

Friends of Sima vice-president Rod Taylor said that investors have worked out a royalty-sharing agreement which will help cover the outstanding $400,000 debt that GNSS owes to WildPlay.

“About six months ago, the board of Friends of Sima were chatting and starting to talk about the long-term opportunity to keep Sima going,” Taylor said.

“I was the one that said, you know, until the WildPlay debt issue is dealt with, it’s going to be very hard to engage people because it’ll be the elephant in the room,” he said.

Taylor approached Northern Vision Development’s Rich Thompson and they came up with a shareholder plan to spread the debt between a number of investors.

It’s a bit of an unorthodox plan. The park’s value was carved into 12 investment shares, each worth $15,000. For all the investors who buy in, each will get one per cent of the royalties generated by the park’s operation.

Thompson agreed.

“We were looking for something a little more creative. We’ll take a small percentage of the summer revenue in exchange for putting up some money, which would allow us the potential to make some of our money back,” he said.

The business community has been very strong in its support of Sima, Thompson said, and many companies were feeling a little tapped out in terms of providing more straight-up sponsorship dollars.

There are two big advantages to this plan, he explained.

The first is that the group was able to get WildPlay to come on board and buy four of the investment units, which demonstrates their belief that the park will eventually be a viable business venture.

“They are one of the investment partners. Obviously if they’re prepared to not only accept a reduced amount of cash, but they’re also willingly taking units in the exercise, they are signaling their support,” Thompson said.

As of Tuesday, 10 of the 12 shares have been sold. In order to make the plan work, the group needs to sell its other two remaining shares.

The move will also allow the Friends of Sima to protect the adventure park assets at the hill.

The adventure park will be a leaner operation than it once was, said Taylor.

“It’s very unlikely that it’s just going to be open to the public seven days a week. Just as with Mount Sima, we lessened the number of days that it was opened, we reduced the number of staff, we’re doing the same model for WildPlay,” Taylor said.

“What you’re going to see is us targeting a whole bunch of groups like city camps, and the rangers, and larger groups where you would know exactly the days they are coming, and we could combine that with Friday, Saturday and Sunday, maybe open to the public,” he said.

The Friends of Sima had a long haul to get this far with the hill. The whole mess started last year when the Great Northern Ski Society, which was still running the hill, asked the City of Whitehorse for nearly $800,000 to keep the hill running.

That didn’t fly, and eventually GNSS collapsed. It is still working on clearing out its debts so it can officially dissolve, and the Friends of Sima formed in its stead and raised money to save the ski hill.

By Taylor’s reckoning, it has been a huge success. The society has sold more than 900 seasons passes this year, nearly quintupling the previous seasonal record.

“Outstanding would not be too much of an embellishment,” Taylor said. “Food and beverage sales will both break records. Notwithstanding a horrific deep-freeze, we’re looking very good for the rest of the year.”

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tr’ondek Hwech’in citizens living outside traditional territory didn’t receive mail-in ballots in time for byelection

Despite tricky timelines, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in says the Elections Act was followed

Dust devil rips apart pop-up fruit stand in Haines Junction

Owner George Redies says he’s thankful for the help and support he’s received from Yukoners

Yukon government recommends wearing masks and preparing for sick days as kids return to school

The press conference also provided an update on the most recent COVID-19 case

Arguments made for and against OCP change

Nearly 500 sign petition in favour

City adopts new procurement policy

Policy comes into effect Jan. 1, 2021

Whitehorse driver pleads not guilty in 2019 pedestrian death

A Whitehorse driver charged with failing to yield for a pedestrian at… Continue reading

Yukon Filmmakers Fund awards announced

Four local filmmakers will receive $20,000 as they continue work on their… Continue reading

UPDATED: Yukon privacy commissioner releases information on COVID Alert app

The office of the IPC has said it has no stance on whether Yukoners should download the app

Changes to federal infrastructure funds allow for COVID-19 flexibility

Announcement allows for rapid COVID-19 projects and expands energy programs to Whitehorse

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

C/TFN announces Montana Mountain reopening plan

Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Carcross/Tagish Management Corporation announced the partial reopening… Continue reading

Roberta Joseph reelected as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in chief

Unofficial results show Joseph with more than double the votes of runner-up

Development incentives considered for three projects

Projects will add 24 rental units to the market

Most Read