After years of facing vandalism and financial uncertainty, members of one of North America’s oldest ski clubs are strapping on their boots for another season.
“We’ve asked people in the community if they’d like to come down and help get the site cleaned up, get the remainder of some of our lift preparation in place, really to make the site as welcoming and as ready to go as we can for the start of the season,” said Caroline Sledz, Edmonton Ski Club president.
While staff and volunteers help with repairs and other tasks, for many it is their connection to the club that has them fighting for its success, as the club has faced some tough times.
In the 2016-2017 season, it struggled to operate due to a lack of funding. In the 2017-2018 season, it was only opened for three weeks, and last season it was entirely closed.
“We made a strategic decision not to open last year, because we felt that there was work that needed to be done, both from a relationship perspective with our partners but also from a facilities perspective to make sure everything was upgraded and safe for our folks coming down to use it,” added Sledz.
The club is also working to repair damages from vandalism.
“It’s been very hard, we drive by every day, and to see some of the vandalism that occurs is pretty hard to see and to stomach, so we thought we could come and put a bit of a facelift on it,” said volunteer Jason Toner.
“I think there’s been several times where people thought the hill would close down, but I think the passion that’s associated with this site from people that have worked here before, from people that have been on past boards, from the community has said no we don’t want that to happen,” added Sledz.
Government funding was announced in 2018, plus the club’s one-year hiatus to get things back on track has them optimistic about the clubs future.
“We’ve had to put plans together and a strategic vision, we’ve worked with partners from the city and the province to help develop that strategic vision and thus really show that we’re committed to making it a success and now we have some money to make that happen,” Sledz said.
This year, the club is working with an operating budget of half a million dollars, which is a portion of $1.1 million granted by the city and province in 2018.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.