The federal and territorial governments are teaming up to make local alpine skiers’ lives a little whiter and brighter.
The two levels of government announced Friday afternoon they are teaming up to provide $5.2 million in funding to take local ski destination Mount Sima off diesel power and onto the grid for its snow-making operations and lights for night skiing.
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell and territorial Community Services Minister John Streicker made the good-news announcement at the ski hill under
a brilliant early-winter sky.
The project will see the Mt. Sima pump-house tied into the electrical grid, along with lights for night skiing.
The systems currently operate on diesel generators, which are less than environmentally-friendly.
The upgrades will include new electrical, pumping and stream control measures, and the removal of the snow-making machinery off of
The federal government’s share is $3.7 million, with the Yukon government kicking in $1.4 million.
The federal money comes from the Departments of Infrastructure and Communities, as well as the Department of Women and Gender
Equality and Rural Economic Development.
The specific programs are the Investing in Canada plan through the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream (RNIS) and the
Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS).
Staff at the hill said taking the operation on-grid will cut greenhouse emissions by 90 per cent. The hill typically creates 140 tonnes of carbon
dioxide a season, and uses 110,000 litres of diesel.
The installation of LED lighting on the ski hill will help build increased capacity for training and special events on the ski hill.
“It’s more important than ever that Canadians have the opportunity to get outside to stay healthy and active while protecting our natural
winter environment,” Bagnell said, reading from prepared notes.
“The Government of Canada is investing more than $3.7 million in better winter sports infrastructure for Yukon skiers and snowboarders,
including upgrades to electrical and pumping systems, improved snow-making operations and eco-friendly lighting on Mt. Sima.
“Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities,” Bagnell added.
“Yukoners, and all Canadians, have been been greatly impacted by COVID-19. Yet they also have unique opportunities for growth and
Mount Sima, Bagnell added, is a “popular winter destination for Yukoners, and this support will help improve the operations of this valued facility, which serves as an important winter activity and skill development venue for Yukon residents of all ages.”
“Overall, this project supports a greener snow-making operation, ensures the facility is able to make adequate snow throughout the winter
season, and extends the operating hours of the facility.”
Streicker said the territorial government had its eyes trained on the future for Mt. Sima when it contributed to the project.
He said he was aware that some Yukon residents might question the expenditure during the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly after the ski
hill was forced to shut down early last season due to the virus.
“The ski hill has been talking about this for years,” Steicker said.
“When we invest now, it’s for years to come. I don’t think it’s just about right now. When the pandemic started, there was a lot of uncertainty
about this facility, but they’ve got an operational plan on how they can run it now during the pandemic.”
Streicker said none of the improvements will be ready this season, so the pandemic will have minimal impact immediately.
“Mount Sima has recently emerged as a destination training facility for elite Canadian athletes, including Olympic gold medalists.
“These upgrades to the electricity and snowmaking capacity will allow Mount Sima to provide more training and special events while reducing their dependency on diesel,” Streicker added.
“Our government is committed to supporting transitions to green energy around the territory and at the same time supporting our local recreation infrastructure.
“We look forward to seeing Mount Sima continue to offer safe quality outdoor experiences for Yukoners.”