The 107-year-old ski hill situated in the heart of Edmonton has received funding from the city and the province to continue operating and pay for some essential upgrades.
On Wednesday, the Edmonton Ski Club announced it will receive $1.1 million from the City of Edmonton and government of Alberta.
“I’m proud that the city and our government were able to come together to secure the future of the club,” Alberta MLA Marlin Schmidt said.
“I hope it will continue to be a place where Edmontonians of all ages can get some fresh air and enjoy our amazing river valley.”
The club is currently operating on limited hours until the end of the season on March 31. Lift passes are $10 and only the smaller hill is open.
The last few years have been tough for the club financially.
“These generous government grants will help get our beloved club back on track and make some much-needed upgrades to our facility so that people of all ages can continue to use it,” Edmonton Ski Club president Monty Worobec said.
“This has always been ‘the little hill that could.'”
The multi-year funding commitment means the club will be able to operate on a full-time basis next season and make capital investments for the first time in decades.
The province has committed $300,000 for the 2017-18 season and $150,000 each for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
The city will invest $217,000 for this year and $242,000 next year.
The plan includes the addition of a Magic Carpet for younger and newer skiers. The club also hopes to refurbish the T-bar.
Worobec also has dreams to add offerings like fat bike rentals and artificial curling rinks to draw more people to the facility.
“That’s part of the re-think, to make sure that, in the long-term, what happens here is financially sustainable,” Edmonton councillor Ben Henderson said. “They were way ahead of us in thinking that through.”
During a normal season, between 750 and 1,000 people use the ski hill every week.
When the Valley Line LRT is done, the Edmonton Ski Club will be the only ski hill in North America accessible by light rail transit.
“It’s going to become even more accessible because we’re going to have an LRT station within two years right here,” Henderson said.
“Understanding that this facility could be accessible for all Edmontonians, was easy for people to use — it’s part of who we are as a city and it would be crazy not to take advantage of something that we’ve had for this long.”
LRT preparation and construction have created some minor disruptions for the club, but it doesn’t have to shut down.
The facility is governed by a board of volunteers. The club leases the land from the city.