Marble Mountain reopening after board members terminated by provincial government

Marble Mountain reopening after board members terminated by provincial government

The provincial government's decision to cut ties with board members and re-open Marble Mountain is a futile and face-saving measure, says two board members axed on Wednesday.

The shake-up comes one week after the board agreed to not extend the mountain's season past its scheduled April 2 closing date.

Despite backing the decision five days ago, Tourism Minister Christopher Mitchelmore notified the majority of board members on Monday their services were no longer needed.

"I think he's absolutely crazy," the now-former chairperson, Bob Pike, said of the minister.

Pike said the board set its closing date based on the budget given to them by Mitchelmore, which was nearly $100,000 leaner this season.

"In order for us to stay open for Easter, we would have lost thousands and thousands of dollars," he said.

On Wednesday, Mitchelmore notified the majority of board members their services were no longer necessary.

Of the 11-person committee, just three remain. Six more people were added by Mitchelmore Wednesday on an interim basis. The hill is set to re-open on April 14 for Easter weekend.

The outgoing members were all past the expiration date of their appointments — many of which expired in 2015. They continued to serve on the board without being officially renewed.

'Thrown under the bus'

The decision is not sitting well with former board members.

"I would like to say thank you to Premier Ball and the minister for throwing a group of volunteers under the bus to make themselves look good," said Jerry George, a long-time member who received his notice via email.

"It's an unfortunate time when people who have dedicated their time to try and help build a facility in this province find themselves thrown under a bus."

One representative of the tourism department sits on the board, and decisions are finalized by the minister.

In the House of Assembly, Mitchelmore said the non-renewals were based on the board's decision to close the hill despite good snow conditions continuing throughout April.

"There were opportunities of which the resort could have stayed open longer," he said. "We are certainly making changes at the board level."

There's a problem with that rationale, George said — Mitchelmore is the one who made the decision to close the hill.

"Marble has one shareholder — the minister," he said. "The decision was the minister's to make. The recommendation came from the board."

Mitchelmore initially came out in support of the decision, saying the hill was losing $5,000 a day by staying open past April 2.

Tony Abbott, operations manager of Marble Mountain, will take over as interim chairperson until permanent replacements are chosen by the province's Independent Appointments Commission.