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REPORTING · 17th December 2014
Walter McFarlane
The conversation over having a bus to the Shames Mountain and Onion Lake Ski Trails which started earlier this year continued at the Special Meeting of Council on Monday, December 8th. A report was issued to Council on a potential pilot project.

A report circulated to Council informed them the costs of the bus will be $1,837 per trip. The bus is scheduled to run Saturdays, starting with December 20th, 27th and January 3rd. There is also a planned outing on Tuesday, December 23rd for youth on Christmas Break. The bus departs at 8:00 am and returns at 5:30 pm. People who wish to use this service must register in advance.

Mayor Phil Germuth explained to Council the history, originally, the District of Kitimat was giving $15,000 to Shames Mountain a year. This program was brought in to benefit both Shames Mountain and the skiers in Kitimat from this yearly donation.

Germuth expressed he wanted to see this pilot be as low cost to the people using it as possible so they could see how many people will use it. If a lot of people use it, they could try and get some corporate sponsorship. He suggested $10 per kids and $15 per adults. He also suggested seeing if there were any volunteer chaperons.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff agreed with Germuth’s analyses. “The idea of something more affordable for children and adults. I would support that, I want to move forward,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Larry Walker asked where they would call off the bus and where they would proceed. He pointed out that 10-20 people would have a lot of room on a 48 person bus. He was told by the Head of Leisure Services, Martin Gould the tipping point would be 10 people. He pointed out if they get 10 people the first time, they could get 20-25 the next time.

“Our goal is to fill the bus, and we will do everything in our power to do that, but people must sign up for the service,” said Gould.

Walker expressed if 10 people took the bus, the trip would cost $1,700 to the taxpayers. Feldhoff expressed this came from the discussion on whether the $15,000 contribution to Shames Mountain was appropriate.

“It may not be a perfect solution, but if we take a look at all our recreation Facilities, we have two ice arena’s and swimming pools and Riverlodge and what have you. If we get 30 cents on a dollar, we’re doing good. If we get $15,000 in total, particularly if we’re going to trot it out as a pilot for a couple of weeks or months, I don’t think it’s unreasonable. There are a number of people in our community that like to participate in downhill skiing and perhaps, for one reason or another, can’t get a ride out there,” said Feldhoff.

He stated the District subsidizes all kinds of activities without the cost recovery basis. He said if this did not work, they would have to revisit it. However, the trial made sense to him.

Councillor Clair Rattee suggested doing a sort of pass so they could determine how much it would be used and how much would be made off of the service. She was told people would have to register for the service up front and pay the service fee.

Rattee explained she meant giving a discount to people who by several trips so the District knows there are people who are interested. Gould expressed they wanted to see who was interested before they set up some kind of pass system.

Councillor Mary Murphy moved the motion to set up the bus at $10 for children and $15 for adults. The plan is for staff to come back to Council after 2-3 trips and advise them on how the service was received.

Gould explained the reason they have chaperons is because the bus line requested it to protect the bus. They would be there to ensure ski equipment does not go missing. They planned the policy so children 13 years and under would be accompanied by a parent.

“They had a horrible experience in Terrace and they told us up front that unless we provide a certain number of chaperons, then they will not rent the bus to us because they do not want to be responsible for ski equipment. They do not want to be responsible for vandalism on the bus, they do not want to be responsible for the children on the ski slope, persons ages 13 and 18,” said Gould.

Germuth suggested finding parents who might want to volunteer. Gould stated they probably will not find volunteers the way the community is currently running.

Rattee asked if the District could work something out with Shames to cut costs, since they were trying to get more people out there. She also asked if they had found chaperons. Gould replied the answer was yes, they have found chaperons and a part of the deal for paying these Chaperons included purchasing their ski pass and meal stipends.

Councillor Rob Goffinet pointed out there was only enough money for 8 trips during the winter. He hoped by having a charge, they would have a few more trips.

The motion was called and carried. Larry Walker was opposed.