Sima seeks safety from creditors

Mount Sima's board of directors is making one last plea for a bailout. The board now says it needs $342,000 by June 21 to pay off outstanding debts, down from the $400,000 it was originally seeking from the City of Whitehorse and the territory.

Mount Sima’s board of directors is making one last plea for a bailout.

The board now says it needs $342,000 by June 21 to pay off outstanding debts, down from the $400,000 it was originally seeking from the City of Whitehorse and the territory.

It also needs $268,000 for next season as well.

When the board first approached the city for money, it had asked for $400,000 to cover this year’s losses, and an additional $400,000 for next season.

Despite lowering their request, Sima board spokeswoman Patti Balsillie said the money isn’t what should change people’s minds.

“Bringing down the accounts payable by a couple thousand dollars is not the game changer at all,” Balsillie said.

“In fact, the effort to change how we have done business and to demonstrate to the community- and stakeholder-shared ownership is what we hope will change minds,” she said.

On Monday the board posted its latest draft business plan on the Mount Sima website. The document lays out how the board plans to overcome its financial woes and rebuild itself for next year.

But to do it, they need that bailout, and they need it fast.

“Following a fairly successful winter operation … it became clear that the financial situation, due to the summer operational deficit and ongoing winter variances, was insurmountable without financial assistance for operations,” the plan reads.

If they don’t get the money by the June 21 deadline, Balsillie said the board will fold up shop and close the mountain.

The Yukon government has already agreed to pay off Sima’s $180,000 debt with chairlift-maker Dopplemayr, provided that the mountain is actually open next year.

The government is still reviewing new draft business plan, said cabinet spokeswoman Elaine Schiman. Cabinet won’t comment until the mayor and city council have had a chance to debate it, she said.

The business plan was drafted after community consultations at two Sima summits on May 16 and 23.

“We held the Sima summit to rally the stakeholders. We believe in the business plan and breaking apart how we’ve done business to shake it up, that we’re changing the way we do business.

“It will be a different kind of public engagement. By taking what we do and putting it in the public eye in a proactive way, we’re going to need more people to be involved,” Balsillie said.

To trim Sima’s budget, the board removed summer operations of the Wildplay park from its business plan. That park is now being operated by the Wildplay company itself. Any profits that Wildplay generates over the summer will be credited towards Sima’s debt with the adventure park maker, Balsillie said.

Balsillie couldn’t say whether summer operations would come back under Sima’s purview or not. It depends on whether Wildplay proves the park to be financially viable, she said.

Along with money, Sima is asking the city to provide support for accounting and programming, Balsillie said.

“I would never suggest that we have not been accountable or didn’t have a business plan. What I can say is that, going forward, we have heard from funders that the community shares the ownership and the responsibility and that the hill is an important asset to Whitehorse,” Balsillie said.

The mayor and council will discuss Sima’s latest request at a meeting tonight, said city spokesman Amos Westropp.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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