After years of financial drain on the County and the taxpayer, Tawatinaw Valley Ski Hill is switching ownership.
Westlock County announced their decision in a release on Friday, saying they approved in principle a 3 year lease-purchase agreement with DK Enterprises, a local organization.
Reeve Bud Massey says their decision was fueled by the desire of Council, who wanted to ensure long-term sustainability for the hill and lessen the pressure on taxpayers.
"Since 2006 it has consistently cost more to operate than it received in revenue. In fact, in the last nine years, the loss in operation revenue alone was in excess of $1.5 million dollars. That doesn't include the capital costs that were put into the ski hill, of more than $3 million."
The County has been in charge of the ski hill since 2006, when it took the business over from a group of volunteers who were struggling to keep up with rising costs.
Now Westlock County is experiencing the same pain as its previous owners.
"It's a great recreational property, but there becomes a limit to how much you can charge people in taxes. We felt it would be better suited going to private enterprise. In order for the ski hill to be really viable, it has to be built into a year-round operation - which is a substantial investment," says Massey.
He had plenty of ideas for the hill, including ziplines, skating rinks, horseback riding and BMX tracks.
"It just makes sense that private enterprise does that and puts in private enterprise money as opposed to taxpayer dollars."
Under the agreement, DK Enterprises will maintain and potentially expand the ski hill for the next 20 years. The long term strategy is to create an enhanced sport and recreation facility destination.
The final agreement and details will be voted on at the next Council meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8th.