At the Town of Clarenville’s most recent council meeting, Coun. Paul Tilley expressed his concern with the provincial government’s decision to reopen and offer free passes over Easter break at Marble Mountain Ski Resort in Steady Brook.
Tilley said — from the town’s perspective — they applaud the government for encouraging winter activities with these actions, however, by supporting only White Hills’ competitor Marble Mountain, the Clarenville area is set up to struggle against a free operation during Easter week.
“We thought that this provided a good opportunity for us to showcase what winter opportunities are available here in Clarenville,” said Tilley.
The town took over ownership of White Hills in 2000. It employs about 30 people seasonally. It is made up of three major pillars: the alpine skiing, the Nordic skiing (with about 400 members) and the snowmobile trail system.
Tilley cited the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games as a way to showcase the area, and says the resort has done well over the years. The Eat the Hill culinary event and the Power to Hope charity fundraiser, both at White Hills, also attract people to the town, he added.
Tilley says the volunteer board, on which himself and Coun. Bill Bailey are members, have worked hard to keep the resort alive and viable.
He says it consistently breaks even with its operating budget and has hardly cost the taxpayers anything over the years.
“It’s not a moneymaking venture by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a community venture,” he said.
Bailey added, a resort the size of White Hills is vital to create new skiers on the east coast of Newfoundland, as a close-by hill makes new skiers, who eventually graduate to the bigger hills further away.
Tilley says the White Hills board has met about the current issue and that they want to meet with the local MHA Colin Holloway, to make him aware of the problem and possible opportunities in regards to relations with the province.
“The board has asked us to ask the town to issue their support for our initiatives through White Hills and to ask the government to give a little bit more consideration to White Hills in its planning for development of winter tourism,” said Tilley.