Mount Sima chair lifts during summer 2013. Mount Sima is one of the sports groups in the territory that will receive a portion of $1.7 million to cope with COVID-19 financial difficulties. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Sports groups receiving $1.7 million to cope with COVID-19 challenges

Around 70 to 90 groups are likely to receive funding to cope with financial difficulties

Sports groups in the territory will receive $1.7 million to cope with COVID-19 financial difficulties.

The funds come from the federal government and will be measured out to nonprofits by the Yukon government.

Jaret Slipp, director of the sport and recreation branch, said Yukon sporting groups are having to adapt quickly to new COVID-19 regulations, which might include increased cleaning, different facility rentals, additional staff or extra supplies and gear.

On top of those changes, many are also dealing with a loss in normal revenue.

“It’s pretty varied,” said Slipp. “A big thing is that many organizations have some sort of earned revenue that they get through membership fees or program fees, or fundraising. And all of those items have been pretty significantly impacted.”

Some groups, such as Sport Yukon and overseeing sport bodies, will act as umbrella groups who receive funding and distribute to smaller partners.

“We’re essentially distributing [most] funds on a formula basis. So it’ll be based on the size and scope of that organization. That was our methodology to get the money out as fast as possible knowing that all of our clients are impacted in some way,” he said.

Slipp estimated around 70 to 90 groups are likely to receive funding. Only groups whose primary mission is physical recreation and sport will qualify.

“We’re very happy with the money. I think the caveat there is that we know there’s such a variety of impact and we anticipate that the money that’s going out won’t cover every impact that organizations are seeing,” Slipp said.

Sam Oettli, general manager at the Mount Sima, said the financial help will be welcomed by the non-profit ski resort.

“Every last little bit helps because COVID has made things financially kind of hard. We’ll have future bills too, it will cost a little bit more to run the operation just because of COVID and so forth. So that definitely helps towards softening that blow,” Oettli said.

Oettli said the pandemic shut down the resort midway through the spring break, an important time for revenue. It also meant the cancellation of the end-of-season spring festival.

He said the resort was able to get summer mountain biking programming up and running eventually and season passes for the winter season are soon to be released, but revenue from spring activities usually bridge the gap between seasons.

“As we ramp up for yet another season, it’s a little bit of an unknown season, just because of the reality of the world,” he said.

This funding is part of the $500 million in COVID-19 relief funding that the federal government announced in May for cultural, heritage and sport organizations across the country.

“Recreation is important, as it helps build inclusive communities, where families and friends can have fun and spend time together. In times like these where isolation is part of our day-to-day lives, it is especially important that we stay active and healthy for our overall physical and mental health,” said MP Larry Bagnell in a statement.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon would be one of the organizations distributing of funding. The Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon was, in fact, named by the sport and recreation branch as an organization that would know of possible funding recipients. The News regrets the error.

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