Edmonton Ski Club set to reopen despite uncertain future

After months of forced closures and delays, the Edmonton Ski Club is hoping to be back in action soon.

'I hope this is here for another 107 years and kids are still coming here after I'm long gone' says president

The Edmonton Ski Club, located at 9616-96 Ave. near Connors Hill, is opening this weekend after financial trouble and a terminated lease. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

After months of forced closures and delays, the Edmonton Ski Club is hoping to be back in action soon.

The club was expected to reopen this weekend, but insurance issues has put it on hold.

The bunny hill is expected to be open three days a week until March 31, with the operation pared down due to delays getting certification for the rope tow. 

"If we were going to only operate the bunny hill, then we would do it in a very safe and a very solid manner for what we figured we could handle," said Edmonton Ski Club president Monty Worobec.

The club hit a snow drift after losing its lease in November, facing longstanding financial issues.

Construction of the Valley Line LRT through the hill also brings additional frustration, but it's something Worobec views as a positive in the long run.

"The long-term gains to be able to get from any point in the city and be dropped off right at a ski hill in the middle of the city, I don't think there's many cities in North America that can say [that]," he said.

The Edmonton Ski Club got money from the city and the province to freshen up its infrastructure. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

The club didn't have much time to prepare, especially this far into the season, he said.

"Thankfully mother nature smiled on us and she gave us 25 centimetres of beautiful white fluffy stuff," Worobec said.

'WinterCity' vision

Funding from the City of Edmonton and the Alberta government helped with operational costs and freshening up the infrastructure at the hill. 

Worobec said he wants to promote the club as part of the City of Edmonton's WinterCity Strategy.

"When the Gallagher [Park] Master Plan is finally finalized and that vision gets put together, I think it's going to be a venue," he said. "I might only believe that, but I think it'll be something special and quite unique."

The club's plan is to be fully operational for next year, adding a magic carpet lift and refurbishing a T-bar.

"It gives us a full value for what the ski hill can do. I think in the summer for the Folk Fest ... Want to cart people up the hill on a magic carpet? Hit the switch," Worobec said.

"Long term, it has way more potential for multi-use … it just opens up the door to so many more avenues for us," he added.

"We can fix all the operational pieces, have great rentals, great staff, tons of snow, but if you've got antiqued lifts and stuff, that can kind of be the turn off for a lot of schools."

'Amping it up'

The Edmonton Ski Club has been operating since 1911.

"The pioneers forged the land here, clear-cut it, built the jumps that I went off as a kid," he said. "It was built on volunteers.

"The minute everybody saw that eviction notice, all of a sudden, it took it from something really small and kind of not happening, to amping it up," he said.

"I think it really touched home to a lot of people that this place just can't be swept under the carpet," Worobec added.

"I think long past me, I hope this is here for another 107 years and kids are still coming here after I'm long gone."