With the Edmonton Ski Club closed for the 2017-2018 winter to deal with its ongoing financial issues, Mayor Don Iveson suggested perhaps uniting the local ski hills could be beneficial.
“There have been, I know, some discussions about how potentially, other ski organizations in the city, including Snow Valley, could come together to support maybe a single organization or coalition of organizations supporting a number of different sites,” he said last week.
“If there’s some efficiency in bringing them together in some kind of partnership that helps provide value for the taxpayer but also ensure those amenities are there in the future, I think that’s all worth exploring.”
The idea of cooperating is nothing new for Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley, Sunridge and Edmonton Ski Club.
“We’ve always had a close relationship with all three areas,” said Jessica Parr, a snow school manager with Snow Valley.
“I know with the snow schools we all sit together at the start of the year and go over everyone’s plans.”
Staff from the various hills usually meet before and after each season to share best practices and other information.
Sometimes it goes even further than that. Rabbit Hill has come to the aid of Edmonton Ski Club in the past.
“We’ve given them rental equipment, we’ve lent it to them before — equipment, whether it’s maintenance for lifts or what not. We try to help each other out as best we can,” said Derek Look, Rabbit Hill’s business services director.”
Look said Rabbit Hill is happy to have a discussion on the topic.
“We’re always looking at ways we can strengthen the ski industry in Edmonton and Alberta in general so if that takes us getting together, sitting in a room, seeing how we can do that and keep Edmonton Ski Club going, we’re always willing to have the conversation.”
However, he added it would be tough for the four hills, which all run independently at this point, to unite as one.
“There’s many ways we can look at co-operating and strengthening each other’s businesses for sure, but operating as one unique company would take a lot of discussion and it wouldn’t be just a simple thing to do.”
Snow Valley, meanwhile, is still looking for more information.
“This is a new idea that’s been brought to us. The first we heard of it is the mayor’s comments. I can’t comment on that,” Parr said.