The Drumheller Mail
Members of the Drumheller Ski Club have voted to sell the hill to a private interest.
In a vote held Thursday, May 28, members of the 16 year old hill that shares lodge facilities with the Passion Play, agreed to sell the area to interests controlled by Mr. Zrinko Amerl, the area’s 2009 manager.
Considerable debate preceded the vote and was obviously an emotional issue for most of the crowd.
Board president Zeke Wolf, told the meeting the present board does not want to run the ski hill. He said the proposal from Mr. Amerl will allow the club to pay outstanding debts of over $200,000.
The major creditors are ATB Financial and the Town of Drumheller.
Mr. Amerl provided the meeting with a media presentation outlining the major concerns facing the hill today, including poor equipment and failing infrastructure.
The vote count was 25 - 14 in favour of selling the hill.
While Amerl is in the process of taking ownership of the hill, he understands the importance residents hold in the fact it was built by the community, for the community.
“The Ski Hill board has worked hard for years to find a lasting solution for the ski hill. I have been hired by last President Shelley Jorgensen in an effort to change the future of the ski hill, Zeke Wolf and the new board continued their work. I have worked with both boards for the benefit of the ski hill, and the work is just starting,” said Amerl. “The biggest concern was a fear that lack of understanding of what it will take to turn the ski hill around gets clouded by the fact the ski hill is built by sweat and tears of this community. The latter does not change the fact that my involvement is for the shear benefit of Drumhellerites and it is a natural progression of a high demand facility such as a ski hill.”
He has a vision to continue to expand the hill.
“Marketing efforts started last year will be expanded and new vigour will be introduced. Due to lateness, not many changes will be obvious on the surface, but lots of prep work will be done. The biggest effort will be going into doubling our capacity, where we will be adding another lift, another snowmaking pump and another cat…that as the time and finances allow,” he said.
He also wants to broker a deal to allow the hill to be open during the summer season.
“One of my first and foremost efforts will be to find new ways to work with our partners the Canadian Passion Play, as year round operations will be the key for our survival. Mountain biking and summer lift operations are part of this plan,” he said.
He also wants to continue to make sure the hill remains a part of the community, with input from the existing board.
“It is that reason why I bought the ski hill, as it is still a community ski hill that will be privately owned. With that in mind, the members of the club will be able to get their skiing privileges for a season for under $100, while the cost of membership will be a mere 10 bucks. In my offer to purchase I presented to the board there is a deal for all members of the club, within 40km radius to get skiing for 1/3 of the regular going price,” he said.
“In addition to that, I invite the community to offer other recreational ideas that might be suited for our facility; if there is financial and social benefit for all involved it will be introduced.”