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REPORTING · 30th June 2014
Walter McFarlane
At Kitimat City Council on Monday, June 16th, a report was issued to Council concerning the bussing of Kitimat Residents to the Onion Lake Ski Trails and Shames Mountain. Earlier this year, it was suggested to use the $15,000 which Council grants Shames every year to create a bussing service so it would be easier for Kitimat residents to access the Mountain.

A report to Council Advised Council to direct staff to proceed with the arrangements for providing a Saturday Bus Service from Kitimat to the Ski Trails and Shames Mountain. There were two possibilities presented.

The First was a 48 passenger coach bus which would cost about $1837 for a round trip. This includes three chaperons and paying costs of skiing and a meal for the Chaperons. The second was to charter a school bus at about $2,067 a round trip. It would have similar costs for the Chaperons and the bus itself would be cheaper to rent. However, it would require a second vehicle to haul the skiing equipment.

There was a long pause at the meeting before Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to give the $15,000 directly to the ski hill to improve the skiing experience at Shames Mountain. It was seconded by Councillor Mary Murphy.

When we take a look at the bussing options presented by staff, its very expensive. It includes chaperons and what have you and I dont see it as being workable. Maybe Im wrong and I would like to go back to what passed in the budget process and again ask Council to put forward a small amount of money to provide an opportunity for those who choose to ski at the ski hill and help the ski hill out and help make a better experience for those in Kitimat, said Feldhoff.

He suggested carpooling and similar transportation to be used to transport Kitimat Residents to the Ski Hill. He stated $15,000 was less money then what the District of Kitimat gave to hockey and swimming.

Councillor Phil Germuth stated he liked the first option. We have an opportunity to try something out for a year and see how it goes. If we really want Kitimat to be a partner in this, the best way to do it is to try and get our citizens out there rather then just handing over $15,000, said Germuth. I think this is a great opportunity to try and get more people out on the hill, probably even more than the $15,000 we put in there and get more people out skiing.

He suggested if they try it, a parent might volunteer to help out to try and keep the costs down and Council could try this out for a year to see if it works. If it does not, they could donate the money over to Shames.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan suggested asking the industries which were coming to Kitimat.to invest. Im sure they would be very interested in probably helping in this particular way. They all have busses and we might ask them what they are prepared to help with, said Monaghan.

Germuth agreed. Feldhoff reminded Council that there was bussing to Shame from the industries last winter but it was closed to their members. He expressed more research needed to be done.

Murphy stated there were industries providing trips to Shames and they were opening the bussing up to the public if it was not all utilized. She wanted staff to explain the options which they did.

Martin Gould, head of the Leisure Services explained to Council the chaperons would be helping out with duties including loading the bus, checking off names of patrons who pre-register through the Leisure Services and maintaining order on the bus. He estimated each Chaperon would be paid about $20 per contact hour. Three Chaperons were recommended because if there were people attending the Onion Lake Ski Trail, a Chaperon would have to get off the bus there as well.

Germuth stated this is an opportunity to start something which could be a success. He suggested industry might jump on this two, as industries love doing things for children. Council would have to take the first step in getting local skiers out to support the hill.

Feldhoff reminded Council the bussing was expensive and he could not see the value in spending money on it. He stated they hand over millions of dollars to all the facilities in Kitimat. We would be giving a small share for the benefit of all Kitimatians who choose to go downhill skiing, said Feldhoff.

He suggested if there was a better way to bring residents to Terrace, it would return to Council. He added that he waited before making the motion to see if anyone would make a motion and no one else spoke. The motion to provide money directly to My Mountain Co-Op was called and it failed.

Councillor Phil Germuth made the motion which was recommended to Council, to put together a bus service using the chartered bus, option 1. Germuth said he thought it was the best option to get the bus service going.

Feldhoff figured this option would equate to 8-9 trips to the ski hill. However, he expressed there was more work required. Gould suggested a service charge to the people who were using the bus. However, he did not know how many people were going to use the service so he suggested starting small and building it up.

The motion was called and carried.