Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ANTICS ON THE HILL – Community Services Minister John Streicker has some fun at Friday afternoon’s news conference at Mount Sima announcing his and the federal governments’ investment in the facility. Streicker crafted a snowball from the artificial snow being made for the event while Sima’s general manager, Sam Oettli, looks on. Inset Larry Bagnell.

Major improvements set for Mt. Sima

The federal and territorial governments are teaming up to make local alpine skiers’ lives a little whiter and brighter.

By Tim Giilck on November 30, 2020

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 diesel power.

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 innovation.”

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.”

Comments (24)

Up 14 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Dec 4, 2020 at 10:25 am

I am wondering if this misplaced financial gift is an example of what the Trudeau Liberals are doing with the vast amounts of money they have squeezed as Carbon Tax? You may recall at the beginning of the tax the Prime Misery said revenue generated would be reinvested in greener technology to offset the burning of fossil fuels, so all this gift does is transfer where the burning of fossil fuels will occur. Time will tell how much more diesel will be burned as a result of this change in generation location. Carbon emissions will not be reduced. Imagine what is also being funded across the country with the same faulty logic.

Up 6 Down 25

Fly Yukon on Dec 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm

The cost of making snow in time and diesel is enormous. The diesel generators need to be moved around the hill taking time and fuel to do so. Having a grid to plug into allows greater capacity for snow making and saves an enormous amount of time and energy. This will greatly reduce the cost to continue operating the community hill amount other benefits. The snow-making takes place at night when there is less demand on the grid. While I appreciate not every Yukoner uses the hill, the benefits of having local ski hill supports our entire community.

Up 26 Down 11

North_of_60 on Dec 2, 2020 at 11:44 pm

Imagine what 5.2 million could do to reduce homelessness instead of spending it on shallow minded vote-buying. Oh that's right, homeless people don't vote LIB like skiers do, that's why.

‘It’s a Miracle’: Helsinki’s Radical Solution to Homelessness
Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally.

Up 21 Down 4

Jake the Bosun on Dec 2, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Getting kind of hectic out there, and certainly illogical. Seems maybe panic spending is kicking in? The big guy sees COVID an opportunity to advance his feminist, racial, environmental agenda and do it without challenge by us. Then they do something this blatantly dumb. He does everything possible to alienate China and offend their citizens, then expects to buy Covid vaccine from them. How nuts is this gonna get?

Up 32 Down 2

Gringo on Dec 2, 2020 at 3:18 pm

@Clean Future...you do know that every time some business, home, car or the like go "Electric" aka "Clean" you do know that YEC will import more and more diesel generation, therefore you can quote the governments 10 year plan..is simply does not make any sense fiscally and environmentally. The Yukon is 10 light years away from anything that will resemble what the hypocritical Liberals envision.

Up 36 Down 4

Max Mack on Dec 2, 2020 at 2:00 pm

@Clean Future
Renewable energy in the North is green? That's a laugh-and-a-half. Aside from the reliability and grid stability problems associated with solar-and-wind, electricity costs will skyrocket to fund these "green" projects. Not to mention the environmental harm caused by solar and wind.

As for Mt. Sima's gift, adding that demand to the grid simply makes no sense when winter demand is already at an all-time high and YEC has to bring in diesel gens to provide power.

Conveniently for YEC and the politicians, increasing demand on the grid provides them with justification to further invest in costly "renewable" energy - with the financial incentives going to First Nations.
Never let a manufactured crisis go to waste.

Up 38 Down 5

Just Sayin' on Dec 2, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Craig Dempsey,
I'd love to go out there and better my physical well-being and mental health! Will you give me $100+ to make it happen? Will you give a family with two children $400+ to make it happen?

Up 9 Down 51

Clean future on Dec 2, 2020 at 10:38 am

Instead of jumping all over an expenditure meant to better our community, why don't you familiarize yourself with the government's 10 year plan for our clean future (https://yukon.ca/our-clean-future). Supporting this type of expenditure is in line with getting away from diesel-generated electricity, and moving to a hydro-supported grid.
And no, Sima isn't privately owned. Why not learn the facts and try to understand the big picture before making ignorant, ill-informed, negative speculative opinions.

Up 37 Down 9

Nathan Living on Dec 1, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Sima could have used diesel and worked away at improving their infrastructure over time.
Five million could have helped a lot of people who need housing. This funding borders on shameful.

Up 16 Down 45

Craig Dempsey on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Wow look at all the negative comments here regarding an investment in peoples mental and physical health. Armchair critics. Get out to the hill and enjoy the resource, you will soon realize it's just not for a "select few" as some of you profess. Yukoners of all ages enjoy this resource and in these times of "isolation" it's a reasonable investment. There's more to life than complaining about your taxes.

Up 46 Down 8

Wilf Carter on Dec 1, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Yukon power rates go up to pay for MT S. Is that true Ranj and Richard?

Up 46 Down 9

Josey Wales on Dec 1, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Reads IMO..that soon someone in the SIMA "clic" will get an awesome new new generator for THEIR cabin.
If ya made the hill outta loonies, it would be another 100 feet higher since the "great pour" started...pouring cash into it.

Up 58 Down 4

BnR on Dec 1, 2020 at 11:06 am

“The systems currently operate on diesel generators, which are less than environmentally-friendly.”
I’ll jump on the bandwagon too. So, do YECs thermal generators have a special “Environmentally Friendly” rating? A special sticker?
Man, what a crock. Sima has been a white elephant ever since the git go. It should have stayed a small, community driven hill. A t-bar, maybe a road to the top for a bus shuttle, no snow making. People just dreamed of a second Whistler in a location that was untenable. I guess it’s just become too big to fail.

Up 48 Down 10

JC on Dec 1, 2020 at 10:47 am

It's just been reported that Bagnel's boss JT has more than doubled Canada's debt to 1.4 trillion dollars and raised the deficit to at least 340 billion dollars from his promise of 40 billion to have been paid off in 2019. But he has plenty of money for projects that will never pay for themselves. Good luck Larry in paying the debt and balancing a budget in your or your children's life time. Don't forget to explain to them that they and their children's children's, children will have to have their taxes raised to just pay off the interest in their lifetime.

Up 62 Down 7

Hill burgler on Dec 1, 2020 at 9:14 am

Wow what a waste of tax money.

Up 44 Down 10

Juniper Jackson on Dec 1, 2020 at 8:51 am

Isn't Mt. Sima privately owned? Shares sold with a Board of Directors? If Mt. Sima is a non-profit please advise. My view of this is dependent on ownership.

In reality..there isn't going to be any "environmental' impact..perhaps more blackouts for the rest of us sharing ATCO grids.
That being said.. Canada..the Yukon..is a winter country and I think BEFORE covid, offered quite a bit of activity and is a good thing for the Yukon. Nothing will prosper in this recession/depression with the Canadian peso and massive debt.

My objection would be I don't want my tax money going into businesses that enrich private ownership. Yukon Gardens comes to mind. Have we seen Mt. Sima's books? I haven't seen 'fund raisers'. I recall the "Friends of Mt. Sima" constantly looking, and getting, handouts from Gov. the City, even Georgie Arcand.

Up 51 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Dec 1, 2020 at 8:44 am

In their rush to buy votes and appeal to the masses, the Liberals are throwing money at anything it seems & I'll bet this project is not even close to being the worst they'll invest in with borrowed money Canadians will be paying back.
Logic has died.

Up 57 Down 6

Jim on Nov 30, 2020 at 7:01 pm

Sima will still be burning diesel, just indirectly through Yukon Energy. But the photo op will be all about the 95% reduction in fossil fuels. So basically just a 5 million dollar pat yourself on the back Liberal ad.

Up 53 Down 10

Wilf Carter on Nov 30, 2020 at 5:16 pm

Larry have you lost your common political sense by trying to buy voters where ever you can? Don't you care about people needing public housing, health care and seniors losing their homes and starving?

Up 57 Down 7

North_of_60 on Nov 30, 2020 at 4:57 pm

This means Mt Sima will transfer costs to maintain their ski hill for a few special users to Yukon Energy's customers all over the Yukon. Meanwhile the diesel generators at YE will provide the extra electricity and our rates will continue to increase to cover these added costs. Only the alt-left LIBs would think that makes any sense. This is nothing more than our tax dollars buying votes for the LIB Regime.

Up 40 Down 4

Matthew on Nov 30, 2020 at 4:54 pm

haha fantastic points... also how can a company that makes next to zero profits afford to take the 11.5% increase for power bills this year.. thanks Yukon energy, another class act of a company..

Up 52 Down 3

Crunch on Nov 30, 2020 at 4:18 pm

We have a collection of i..... here in Yukon that I would put against any in the world for being clueless.

Up 96 Down 4

Yukoner’71 on Nov 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Off of Sima’s diesel generators and onto Yukon Energy’s winter fossil fuel generators. Politicians and government administrators actually collect a taxpayer paycheque to be this idiotic?

Up 97 Down 5

TMYK on Nov 30, 2020 at 2:37 pm

So instead of using the diesel generators at the hill, Sima will now be using the diesel generators at Yukon energy.

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