By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
The Valley Ski-hill on the northern border of Paintearth County has been an institution in the region for decades, and it is getting some much-needed work done.
Erosion was first identified as an issue to the ski hill in 1997, and since then has become a threat to the overall viability of the hill.
Over the years, funds have been raised and spent on engineering studies of the hill, looking to correct the issues permanently, however until recently the suggested repairs have either been inappropriate for the hill, financially unviable, or both.
“We’ve done a lot of leg work the last few years,” said Grant Boddy, president of the Valley Ski-hill.
“We were looking to find the right person (to do the work).”
The Valley Ski-Hill approached the County of Paintearth and County of Flagstaff in 2016 to help facilitate the needed repairs, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the three entities.
Since then, the Valley Ski-Hill has been searching to find an appropriate contractor to do the needed slope stabilization work. The search concluded earlier this when M.R.W. Project Services Ltd. was contracted to do the work, which began in September.
“It’s been a process,” said Boddy.
“It’s pretty exciting to work towards a (permanent) resolution.”
The contractor selected to complete the project came in cheaper than many of the other competitors and specializes in ski-hill work.
The total cost for the project will come in around $660,000, split between the two counties and the fundraising efforts of the volunteers that run the hill, as per the agreement.
The total cost to the County of Paintearth will be approximately $300,000, a sum already placed in restricted surplus, with no additional burden on the ratepayer in 2020.
A benefit of the slope stabilization project will be that it should allow the hill to open earlier in the season. Until now, once the weather cooperated, the first two weeks of each season was spent patching the eroded areas of the hill and making snow.
With the work being conducted, the volunteers will be able to skip that step and proceed directly to snow making.
“It’ll make things so much easier for us,” said Boddy.
“We’ve had ideal conditions for the work to happen.”
To date, the County of Paintearth has already released $150,000 to the Valley Ski-Hill to pay for engineering and expenses to date.
Council approved an additional $70,000 to the Valley Ski-Hill to pay for the deposit for the work during their Oct. 6th meeting of council, with an additional $380,000 to be paid out at various progress points during the project.
County of Paintearth administration will invoice the County of Flagstaff for their share of the funding.