Chairlift fundraiser begins at Mount Sima

The Great Northern Ski Society started a fundraiser for a new chairlift at the Mount Sima ski hill near Whitehorse with some major corporate donations Thursday.

The Great Northern Ski Society started a fundraiser for a new chairlift at the Mount Sima ski hill near Whitehorse with some major corporate donations Thursday.

Pelly Construction wrote a cheque for $100,000, and the owners of Yukon Yamaha and Nuway Crushing added a $25,000 donation.

The ski society is counting on Yukon sponsors to help them raise at least $400,000 to help pay for the new chairlift, said society president Craig Hougen.

"We've got a great start and the early indications are we're not getting a lot of resistance," he said. "I don't think we'll have any problem finding the money to finance this chair."

The new lift, being installed this month, will cost about $3 million.  Hougen said the society will find the rest of the money from other funding sources.

City council pitches in

Whitehorse City Council approved $1.6 million earlier this year to the society to support the installation of the new chairlift.

The city passed a bylaw to guarantee $300,000 of that amount in July. When the society put in a request in October for an additional advance of $600,000 to pay for the new lift, Councillor Ranj Pillai said he wanted to see a report on where else funding was coming from for the upgrades.

"I just want to see what's been going on from the organization, what work they've been putting into actually raising money besides us funding them."

Coun. Betty Irwin was the only council member to oppose the additional funds advance.

The new chairlift is already under construction. Seventeen towers were airlifted into place in less than four hours this week. Ski hill manager Parker Hickey said there's still work to do but getting the towers in place is a major piece of the puzzle.

"The lift installers just finished torquing all the bolts on all the towers so they are permanently in place and they're assembling the drive station and the return station and they have a com line to put up and of course the chairs and the cable and pieces are arriving pretty much daily," he said.

"The weather co-operated, everything worked just very smoothly, so it is really starting to look like a lift."

Hickey said so far it looks like the mountain is on track to open next month. 

The Great Northern Ski Society is targeting to have Mount Sima fully operational for the upcoming ski season and the 2012 Arctic Winter Games.