BONNYVILLE – The MD of Bonnyville council has reluctantly agreed to fund an additional $300,000 for equipment maintenance and repairs at the Kinosoo Ridge Resort from the municipality’s Cash Flow Reserve.
The 2021 equipment repairs and maintenance budget for Kinosoo Ridge totalling $55,000 has already been used and money spent on repairs have exceeded budget allocation by nearly $15,000.
Presenting to council on Nov. 12, Bowen Clausen, the director of parks, recreation and culture, said, “The findings from an operational and financial review conducted in the spring of 2021... identified that the operational practices at Kinosoo Ridge failed to follow consistent maintenance schedules and upkeep procedures for equipment and infrastructure required to operate the facility in an effective and efficient manner.”
He added, “This has now led to drastically shortened infrastructure life spans, equipment breakdowns, and extensive repair costs.”
In order for Kinosoo Ridge to be operational for winter tourism extensive repairs are needed on several pieces of necessary equipment. The estimated cost for repairs is over $265,000.
Equipment needing repairs include the resort’s snow groomer, snow making water pump, snow making water line, 20-volt power pedestals, the Chalet drainage, a replacement of the Chalet’s hot water tanks, a temporary fix to the Chalet boiler until it is replaced next year, and an electric motor overhaul along with other mechanical replacements for the green and blue chair lifts.
As a result, administration is seeking $300,000 extra to get the resort operational for the winter season.
Council heard that prior to the MD’s parks and recreation department officially taking over the management of Kinosoo Ridge’s maintenance, a maintenance program had never been developed or used.
“Even the records on maintenance are little to none,” said Clausen. “I will say on the chairlifts – impeccable. That is the only area that there is very regular inspections and it's all documented because it's regulated. When it comes to everything else, there is little to nothing.”
Providing context to the current maintenance dilemma, CAO Al Hoggan said, “In the past Kinosoo Ridge, although it's not a separate entity, ran itself as a separate entity. As a result, many of these maintenance items that we would think would be second nature to the rest of the MD was being dealt with on their own.”
Hoggan described the situation that the parks and rec department inherited at Kinosoo as being in complete disarray.
“There's been some adjustments with staffing at the hill, a lot of these issues weren't disclosed to us and so we're coming around them now... A proper asset management program would have recognized waterlines, boilers, buildings, replacement schedules, maintenance schedules. As a result, we are where we are today – it's unfortunate.”
Noting the unexpected equipment failures and the need to carry out repairs, the CAO said, “There were holes in the waterline, I only found out about this literally a week ago myself on many of these items, and of course, they had to be fixed otherwise the ski season itself is in is in jeopardy.”
It was also noted that MD staff are working on a maintenance program and schedule, but are also playing catch up on essential repairs.
Before agreeing to the motion to provide the additional finances, Coun. Darcy Skarsen asked administration if they could assure council that another request for funds would not be made in the near future.
“Are we ready to start making snow after these things are repaired or do you have more things to look at?” asked Skarsen.
In response Clausen said, “hopefully not, but there is always the unknown,” especially with the Alberta Elevating Devices and Amusement Rides Safety Association (AEDARSA) set to complete their annual inspection of Kinosoo’s chairlifts and ski carpets right away.
This may require further repairs or adjustment prior to receiving their certification, he acknowledged.
Skarsen reiterated that he would like to see administration “sharpen their pencils” and find a way to replenish the funds being drawn from the Cash Flow Reserve.