Mount Sima ski hill gets funding to cut diesel use by 90%

·1 min read

Mount Sima ski hill in Whitehorse is weaning itself almost entirely off diesel power after receiving $5.4 million from the federal and territorial governments to convert its snow-making operations to electric power.

The hill's general manager, Sam Oettli, said Friday at the ski hill that the snow-making system was installed for the Canada Winter Games in 2007.

"It was done in a time when diesel was cheap and people weren't looking at the environment quite as much as they maybe should have been," said Oettli.

Diesel is used to generate power for the water pump system and for the snow-making equipment. That includes hauling four diesel generators and fuel up the hill.

Oettli said that system has not sat well with him since he began working at Mount Sima 10 years ago.

The pump house is being converted to electric power and underground electricity cables will be installed right up to the top of the hill.

"So this, as we are about to shut down snow-making here pretty soon, will hopefully be the last time that we need to tram fuel up the mountain for this, which is awesome," Oettli said.

Philippe Morin/CBC
Philippe Morin/CBC

The Whitehorse area generally does not get much snow, Oettli said, so the ski hill cannot operate without snowmaking.

He said Mount Sima has been using about 110,000 litres of diesel each year. Electrification will reduce that by about 90 percent, Oettli said.

The public funding will also allow the ski hill to install LED lighting. Oettli said that will increase safety on the hill, allow for more events during the evenings, and mean a wider strip of the hill will be lit up.