Ski club president questions decision to reopen Marble Mountain

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Ski club president questions decision to reopen Marble Mountain

The president of the Marble Mountain Ski and Ride Club is questioning the government's decision to reopen the hill for Easter weekend.

The government recently terminated the majority of the mountain's board of directors and committed to reopening, offering free lift tickets and rentals to the public. 

"We have no say. It's going to be dealt with by a bunch of bureaucrats out of St. John's who the minister appointed, and there's no local rep," Hal Cormier said.

The ski club has had a member on the mountain's board of directors since the government took over operations in the 1980s.

That came to an end in early April, when public displeasure over the mountain's early closure prompted the government to let go eight out of 11 members of the board, including ski club representative Jerry George.

Cormier said although it was controversial, the decision by the board of directors to shut the hill on April 2 made sense.

"The numbers just weren't there. You could see that the hill was losing money. It was time to mitigate the losses, as mandated by the government, and shut the hill down."

As for the plan to reopen for Easter weekend, he said it's great — as long as the money isn't coming from the mountain's operational budget. 

The cost of running the mountain is estimated to be $11,000 per day. 

Cormier said the decision to reopen could have been made without firing board members.

"There were some great people on this board, die hard skiers. If they could have found a way to continue the season in a financially sound manner they would have done it."

Moving forward

Cormier said he hopes government will instate a permanent board chair so that operations of the mountain can move forward in a more positive direction. 

He said there is potential for development which has been stifled due to land at the base of the mountain being controlled by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, something the current and previous boards have been trying to change for years. 

One such opportunity is a "micro hydro-electric" project. This development, which has had some engineering work already started and completed, would see water used for snow-making equipment recycled to generate power for the mountain or be put back into the grid.  

Cormier said projects like this would allow the mountain to stand alone financially, without government subsidy. 

"Someone in at the confederation building has to walk down the hallway and look at the housing crowd and say 'sign the deed over to Marble so the corporation can get the bloody land developed,'" he said.

"It has to start with government. Maybe minister Mitchelmore (Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation) can be a hero in all of this. Maybe he can step up and say 'let's get this done.'"