Edmonton

Stolen equipment could delay opening for north-central Alberta ski hill

Staff at the Long Lake Ski Area in Thorhild County, Alta. say they're frustrated with the break-and-enter thefts they've been getting at their shop — having been broken into twice in two months, most recently on Monday.

Suspects stole items that are worth about $17,000

Staff from Long Lake Ski Area say they need their stolen equipment in order to maintain the hills and get them ready for opening day on Dec. 1. (Facebook: Long Lake Ski Area)

Staff at the Long Lake Ski Area in Thorhild County, Alta. say they're frustrated with the break-and-enter thefts they've been getting at their shop — having been broken into twice in two months, most recently on Monday.

Jocelyn Toronchuk, manager of the ski hill, said video surveillance footage shows a group of three people cutting locks on the resort's gate and using a crowbar to break through the shop doors. The suspects stole items that are worth about $17,000.

The stolen items include an air compressor, battery charger, electric fuel pump and two snowmobiles. 

"It's definitely frustration on our part," Toronchuk said, adding this comes after another break-in they dealt with on Sept. 24 — where an air compressor, battery charger, a combination ATV and jet-ski, fuel, tools and supplies were stolen. 

After staff replaced the air compressor and battery, they were stolen again this week.  

'Putting us at a delay' 

Toronchuk said the theft "could cause setback" on the resort's opening date this year,  if they can't recover the items. The hill was scheduled to open Dec.1. 

"It's putting us at a delay. We need the snowmobiles to get operations started. Those snowmobiles that were stolen, we use them to monitor the hills, haul supplies to get our lifts ready to go and do all the maintenance on the hill. 

"It takes time to replace them, but we're going to make something work some way, somehow," Toronchuk said, adding they're still hoping to open on time this year. 

'Replacement is going to be hard' 

Toronchuk said the ski hill is run by Thorhild County and functions as a non-profit, so the thefts hurt their bottom line. 

"It really impacts everything, because as any business, the cost of replacement of this stuff is not all covered by insurance for our business," she said. 

"The cost of replacement is going to be hard. It will affect the municipality, budgeting and everything they have to do to make sure that we can still get what we need to be operational and teaching." 

Boyle RCMP have arrested a 34-year-old man in relation to this crime, who's not from the community, Const. Andrew Deme said. Police have looked at the surveillance video provided and charges against the man are pending, he said. 

Long Lake Ski Area is about 130 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.