Snow resort asks city to waive back-taxes

Timmins Daily Press

Council considering request to allow ski hill move to move forward with new business plan and apply for grants.

Handout Not For Resale rsd / Supplied

Timmins council is mulling over a request from Kamiskotia Snow Resort to wipe out $160,000 in owed back-taxes as the ski hill moves forward with a new business plan to make the facility a four-season attraction.

“To ensure that we don’t rely on ski revenue only, we’re expanding our offerings,” said Reilly Heffernan, director on the board, who made a presentation to council last week with Eric Philipow, general manager of Kamiskotia Snow Resort.

Heffernan said as part of this effort to diversify, the resort was booked for 14 weddings this summer, they have been sub-leasing the land to a group that hosts motocross events and they are now looking at cutting some mountain bike trails.

“A part of what we’re trying to do in order to make sure we can continue moving forward is to be fiscally responsible. We’ve set a new business plan in place to make sure that takes place.

“We’ve eliminated 13 per cent of our operational costs which help us move forward and operate at a profit, whereas in the last 10 years we’ve actually had some losses.”

Several councillors spoke on the matter, commending the direction of the new management team and their efforts to create opportunities to generate revenue all year round.

It was acknowledged the snow resort is a valued facility to the community and a draw for out-of-town visitors.

Several members of council said they would be willing to support the request, but admitted having some reservations or wanted some conditions attached.

“I do support the Kamiskotia ski resort,” said Timmins Mayor George Pirie. “I do want to see a business plan, audited financial statements on a go-forward basis that makes us feel comfortable that we are not throwing good money after bad.”

Coun. Noella Rinaldo said this was at least the third or fourth time a representative from Kamiskotia has attended council in the last nine years asking for a tax break, loan or financial assistance.

“So you can understand a little bit of our hesitation in having new plans. I’m trying to look forward and say ‘the past is the past,’ let’s work on this.

“You’ve come up with a plan. I understand it’s hard to apply for grants, it’s hard to move forward because you owe this money, this money is on your books so you can’t really move forward until that debt is gone.”

There was some discussion, if council agrees to the request, whether the city would absorb the cost in one lump sum or over the course of five years.

Rinaldo noted that as long as there is a debt on the snow resort’s books, the facility won’t be able to apply for grants.

“I’m very comfortable with what you’ve proposed, except, unlike the past, I would like to know that we get a notification from our treasurer that the minute you miss a (tax) payment and that you do present to council every year,” she said.

Coun. Andrew Marks also expressed a willingness to accommodate the request as long as council receives a report annually from the resort and there is better communication and a greater sense of partnership between the ski hill and city council.

“I want to be able to support it but I want to make sure that we’re going down the path together,” he said.

Mayor Pirie suggested to Heffernan and Philipow they meet with the Timmins Economic Development Corporation about receiving some assistance in applying for grants that may be available to the facility.

“There may be different grants that you’re unaware of,” said Pirie. “I’d like to see all of those avenues explored and I’d like to see this resort grow.

“We support you 100 per cent. We want to see it succeed but we also want to be put in a position to help you succeed.”

He said that means providing a “business plan, financial statements, accessing all potential services that are already in place in Timmins to assist the successful operation of enterprises like this, and looking at where in fact there may be a better allocation of expenses … to see if there is any way you can reduce those operating costs even further than your 13 per cent.”

The Kamiskotia representatives left a digital copy of their business plan for council’s perusal.

The matter is expected to be discussed further by council at a future date.

Go to Source