There are questions about the future of the Edmonton Ski Club after a note was seen posted to its clubhouse door on Connors Hill indicating the city is terminating its lease with the club, effective Dec. 10.
Also posted on the clubhouse door on Monday was a message warning not to tamper with a partition wall dividing the north and south parts of the building or else the city would have “no alternative but to limit access to the entire building, prior to termination of the lease.”
The note indicates part of the building has been condemned.
The ski club’s website and Facebook page were both still online as of Monday night, though the most recent post visible on its Facebook page is an Aug. 11 message reminding people about the club’s annual general meeting.
Monty Worobec, the president of the Edmonton Ski Club, told Global News the non-profit board was surprised to see the lease terminated by the city and fences put up on the property.
“We had it budgeted in that we’d kind of be maintaining and looking after the hill with our funding that the city had given us,” he said on Tuesday.
Worobec said the board voted to close the ski hill for this winter season and regroup for next year.
Ongoing financial issues, the LRT expansion and the city’s Gallagher Park master plan was behind the decision. That plan is in the preliminary stages and includes the Muttart Conservatory, Cloverdale Community League and Edmonton Folk Festival.
Councillor Ben Henderson said he was disappointed to hear the ski hill won’t be open this season.
“I would have preferred we didn’t pull the lease and suggested we shouldn’t,” Henderson said on Tuesday, “but it wasn’t my call.”
The city said it terminated the lease because the Edmonton Ski Club was not fulfilling the terms of that lease, which was to operate a skill hill.
“It’s like a snowstorm,” Worobec said. “There’s lots of little snowflakes that make up the storm and right now we’ve been dealing with different components.”
Part of the building on the property had also been condemned. Worobec said it’s not clear if any part of the structure is salvageable.
The ski club said it plans to sit down with Henderson in the hopes he can help map out the future of the hill, adding it’d be a shame to lose 106 years of history on that site.
“It’s an unbelievable piece of property in the middle of a thriving city,” Worobec said.
“I’ll do everything,” Henderson said. “[I’ll] fight tooth and nail to make sure that it continues to be able to operate there.”
The non-profit began operating in 1911 and describes itself as “a hidden gem for skiers and snowboarders, set in the beautiful river valley, 10 minutes from downtown Edmonton.” The club’s programming includes ski instruction and athletic training.
Watch below: On Sept. 25, 2016, Julia Wong filed this report after a downtown Edmonton ski hill turned to the city for help to keep its doors open.
Last year, the club asked the city for $1.3 million in funding spread out over five years so it would still be able to operate while the city develops its master plan for Gallagher Park. The club also faced uncertainty with the Valley Line LRT expected to run through the hill, which would require relocating ski lifts and towers.
Last winter, the ski hill was targeted by vandals several times, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Watch below: On Jan. 16, 2017, Sarah Kraus filed this report after vandals caused about $5,000 worth of damage at the Edmonton Ski Club.
The ski hill operates from November to March and attracts between 15,000 and 32,000 skiers per season.
– With files from Emily Mertz and Julia Wong