After a dearth of snowfall closed the ski slopes at Centennial Park last winter, desperately needed electrical repairs will keep the hills barren for the 2018 season as well, the city said this week.
Whether or not that work will be done — and the slopes reopened — depends on council accepting the estimated $5 to $10-million price tag this fall session.
"I think the debate will entail whether or not the city should be in the ski hill business," Etobicoke city Coun. Justin Di Ciano said Saturday.
The 213-hectare Centennial Park in Etobicoke is a major draw during summer. And in winter, hordes of young kids get their first chance to try skiing or snowboarding at the park's city-run hills, built upon a towering garbage pile some 30 years ago.
Last season was the first ever to be entirely cancelled due to problems with snow-making amid milder winter temperatures.
'Major overhaul' needed
Recently, the city's parks department highlighted that the ski hill, in particular its electrical infrastructure, has fallen into disrepair. Electricians and engineers have since determined that a "major overhaul" is necessary if the operation is to pass a safety check.
"It's essentially a state of good repair issue," Di Ciano said. "Things are not working as they should."
The entire project is complicated by the logistics of building on a former landfill site, he added. That's why estimates for repair costs were higher than many had anticipated.
Now council will have to determine if the ski hill is a core service, and if so, what the city is willing to pay to keep it functional.
"Certainly, there is going to be a lot of Etobicoke councillors that are going to want to continue with the service at Centennial Park, but we're going to be asking some serious questions as to how much money it's actually going to take to fix this thing," Di Ciano said.
He added that he'd like parks staff to determine if the upgrades could be done for less. Alternatively, there may be other, less expensive options for the slopes, like converting them to a tobogganing hill for example.
City council is slated to debate the future of the Centennial Park ski and snowboard area in the autumn. It's not clear, however, when the repairs and upgrades could begin.
If the work isn't completed, then the hill may close to downhill enthusiasts for good.