With its board of directors unsure about a 2008 opening, little was accomplished at Mt. Sima’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.
After approving last season’s minutes and breezing through the treasury report, the crowd in the Mt. Sima’s chalet sat docile, prompting one a board member to jokingly ask Keith Thaxter, interim president of the Great Northern Ski Society, “What have you done with these people?”
As discussion began to seep into the room, those in attendance were relieved to learn that repairs to the lifts and snow-making machines are on schedule.
“Looking over the snowmaking system, as of today all the leaks have been fixed on the main lines,” said board member, Marc Boulerice. “There are some repairs still to be done to some of the valves and things like that, but everything on the ground seems to be good right now.”
“Your T-bar really suffered from shoddy insulation,” said John Cleaver, one of the two mechanics from Summit Lift who came up from BC to repair and expect the lifts.
“I have no problem putting my kids on it tomorrow.”
Mt. Sima abruptly closed last January in mid-season when a bolt on the resort’s T-bar lift came loose, throwing the safety of all three lifts into question.
The resort has so far received $55,000 from Whitehorse to complete repairs. However, Mt. Sima is still waiting to discover whether the city will provide one last installment of funds to get the resort back on its feet, allowing it to open for the season.
“We’re not sure why it’s taking so long,” said Thaxter, speaking of the wait for word from the city. “Right now we’re just happy the city has stepped forward and taken the lead.”
The unscheduled closure last January left Mt. Sima owing $70,000 in lift passes.
Although Thaxter has said that if the resort fails to open this year, the money from the city will not have been wasted because the work done will carry over to the 2009-2010 season.
However, it came to light during the meeting that if Mt. Sima remains closed for this season, the resort will have to take a tremendous hit, paying out the $70,000 instead giving out season passes.
“That is one of our main concerns is that we have to honour those passes,” said Thaxter. “That’s why I say, getting the hill open gets rid of that $70,000 debt right away.”
The board of directors is expecting to learn the city’s decision any day now.
Also discussed at the meeting was the possibility of Mt. Sima becoming a year-round resort, offering summer activities like mountain biking and guided hikes.
According to board members at the meeting, year-round operation would not only bring in more revenue, but would limit repairs and other preparations needed each fall before opening for ski season and help ensure a higher quality of employee.
“When you hire staff, you can’t just hire them for half a year,” said board member Creig Hougan. “Because then they’re going to leave, and you won’t get good people to work with for half a year.”
As advised by Kirk Duncan from the Eaglecrest Ski Resort in Juneau, Mt. Sima is planning to hire three year-round employees, an area manager, an operations manager and a maintenance manager.
“I said, ‘That sounds like a lot to me, why do we need three people?’” said Thaxter.
“He said right now there’s an awful lot of catch-up to do and a lot of work.
“Believe me, we won’t have three people if we don’t need three people, but that was the recommendation to just getting going.”
Some interviews for the positions have taken place, but no one has officially been hired.