Town rejects Ski Club's offer, future of slopes still in limbo | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 17 May 2024 12pm

Town rejects Ski Club's offer, future of slopes still in limbo


    The Town of Drumheller has rejected an offer of compromise from the Drumheller Valley Ski Club.   

    On Tuesday morning the Town of Drumheller issued a statement that an offer of compromise  it received from the Ski Club was not in the best interest of the town.
    Zrinko Amerl of Badlands Ski Hill Ltd. attended Monday night's Drumheller Town Council Committee of the Whole meeting with  a delegation of about a dozen  supporters. As they were not on the agenda, they were unable to have an audience with council. At the time of the meeting, Amerl was confident that an offer made by the Ski Club would address the outstanding issues.
    “We feel it is a fair offer and it will allow us to open and be running for Christmas this year,” he said.
    If the ski hill is not able to open for the season Amerl said last week, that those who have bought ski passes will be reimbursed.
    While no solution has been worked out to have the ski hill in Drumheller up and running this season, all parties can agree on one thing: they want skiing this winter.
    "It is Council's hope that a group or organization will come forward with a viable business plan that will allow for a 2010/2011 ski season. There are no current negotiations regarding the sale of the Town property located at the ski hill," said a press release from the Town of Drumheller.   
    This November, the Town of Drumheller terminated its contract with the Drumheller Valley Ski Hill Association and Badlands Ski Hill Ltd.  Residents have expressed everything from shock to anger to resignation. In the meantime, those most affected by the closure are hoping there will be snow on the slope.
    The Hoodoo Hoppers ski team has been rejuvenated this season, but all will be for naught if the hill doesn’t open.
    “It was kind of dying off last year, and had become more of a recreational team,” said Heather Zucatto, treasurer of the Hoodoo Hopper board. “Already we have 20 kids on the racing team, and we have a new board that was appointed in September.”
    The new organization has been busy. Vince Low is coaching the team. They have completed a bottle drive to raise funds for new jackets, and have purchased new ski equipment. They were also in the process of registering for races.
    “The kids are pumped, they’re excited,” said Zucatto. “It would be very sad if we lost the hill. For the youth in this town, it would be a loss.”
    “It sounds like another group or board is going to have to step up to get the ball rolling,” she said. “It’s a mess, there are a lot of things to work out.”
    For the Passion Play there are wider ramifications, as it is still owner of some of the land on which the ski hill is situated.
    Earlier this year the Passion Play and the Ski Hill Association were working on a land deal that would have divided some of the shared land. This did not proceed according to Passion Play general manager Vance Neudorf because the Ski Club was de-registered and was no longer an entity.
    “We tried our best, we definitely wanted to keep the ski hill going,” said Neudorf.
    He explains the inability to complete the deal with the land could cause difficulty for the Passion Play as well.
    The Mail reported in its September 8 edition that a lawsuit had been filed naming the Ski Hill Association, the Passion Play, the Town of Drumheller and Christ the Redeemer School Division following an on-hill accident in 2008. Since then the Alberta Government has also filed suit to recover medical expenses as there was no insurance in place. This incident may affect the Passion Play’s ability to obtain insurance coverage.
    “Because we were involved in the lawsuit, we were told we could not get insurance unless we made some changes and had a clear demarcation between us and the Ski Club,” said Neudorf. “We were pushed there in a sense, but we thought let’s come up with something in everybody’s interest and move forward. We tried that, and the deal was there and it should have gone through…but it dragged on and by the time we hit the spring they (the Ski Hill Association) were struck and the wheels fell off the wagon.”
    He said there is a consensus that the operation of the hill is good for the valley, but the question is what is the first step.
    “The question is how do we move forward from here, and I don’t know,” said Neudorf.
    “I’m out here in the winter and see the kids stomping through in their ski boots with big grins on their faces, loving their day and having a good time. Who can argue with that? There is all kinds of good with that, I think you have to have things like that in a town this size to give kids something to do.  On the other hand we cannot afford to have an incident again if the place isn’t insured, and I cannot say yes or no because I am not privy to that information. But when I think the club has been struck and no one is really running the place, then who has insurance if the ski hill were to start up?"

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