Letter: Keeping recreation local an asset

Phoenix is deserving of tax-based funding as a recreational facility in the area, says Zorn.

The Phoenix Mountain Ski Hill has provided a valuable recreational asset for Boundary residents since 1969.  During the run-up to the November 15 election, the Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society board (PMASS) wants to ask the community and our elected officials: “How much value do we place upon this little gem right in our own back yard?”

Over the years, the increasing costs of operations and maintaining equipment to the stringent safety requirements of the industry have risen substantially. With an average annual operating loss of $60,000, Phoenix Mountain has been surviving only with the support of Gaming Funds from the B.C. government.

In 2013, PMASS learned that we were not eligible for a Gaming Grant. We appealed to and are grateful to Boundary businesses and individuals who raised the money needed to meet that shortfall.

In talks with the City of Grand Forks and the RDKB directors, Phoenix Mountain is close to consideration as a line item on their annual budgets. We are off to a good start with a commitment of $20,000 annually from the City of Grand Forks and Area D Recreation Commission and are currently in discussion with Grand Forks and Area D, the home of most of our patrons, to secure additional funding commitments. Areas C & E, and Greenwood have already made contributions to Phoenix for the current 2014-15 year and we are optimistic this support will continue.

We received a Gaming Grant of $41,000 for the 2014-15 operating year. However, it is less than previous years, and comes with stringent regulations for fund use.  We were also advised to expect lower levels of support in future years.

Phoenix’s future viability is clearly dependent upon public support.  Realizing that Gaming Funds are not the answer, we have been asking for many years that the City of Grand Forks and RDKB Area D enter into a service contract with Phoenix Mountain to provide stable tax-based operational funding for the ski hill. A very strong indication of the community support for this initiative is the fact that donations from individuals and businesses covered our loss of Gaming Funds last season.

Phoenix is deserving of tax-based funding as a recreational facility in the area.

Phoenix provides seasonal employment for 30 full- and part-time workers and contributes approximately $200,000 annually to the local economy in the short space of four months. We introduce hundreds of kids every year to the sports of skiing and snowboarding through our subsidized school program, and provide a great family-focused recreational opportunity.

Our need is not for fundraising projects to generate a few thousand dollars, but for a stable annual source of funds of about $60,000 to supply 25 per cent of our annual operations budget.

The Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society plans to work with elected officials to build a plan to ensure stable and viable funding from local government for the Ski Hill. We would request you consider asking your future electoral candidates where they stand on the issue of locally supported government funding for Phoenix Mountain and their view of the importance of this recreational resource. Keeping recreation local encourages local spending and is a true Boundary asset!

Dylan Zorn, President, Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society

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