INNISFAIL – Construction is beginning this month for a long sought new and larger chalet at the Innisfail Ski Hill.
The new chalet is being built with a $385,000 budget, replacing the 57-year-old lodge that has served the local ski hill since the mid-1960s.
“The (old) building is kind of debilitating itself over time. It’s been an ongoing thought in the back of people’s minds for a while and we finally decided that we’d better do something about it,” said Brent Jackson, the president and spokesperson for the ski hill, a private non-profit society that is administered by a 10 to 12-member volunteer board.
“It (lodge) is running out of room. We seem to have more and more people coming out and we need a bigger space," said Jackson. "It (chalet) will last for another 50 plus years for everybody to enjoy. "
Site work has already begun for the new chalet, which at just over 2,000 square feet will be about 33 per cent larger than the old lodge. When completed, the new chalet will have more space for both guests and gear, an upgraded concession and larger washrooms.
The goal for the board and the more than 25 dedicated volunteers is to have the new chalet ready for the upcoming ski season.
“There is no reason it shouldn’t be. We should be able to put together something like this,” said Jackson.
Jackson formally presented the ski hill’s plan to council at the biweekly Agenda & Priorities meeting on May 19. He said the intent was to keep council in the loop, not necessarily for financial assistance.
“I think it is a good asset for the town and the community. It is not their fiscal responsibility,” said Jackson.
“I just wanted to give them a head’s up on what we are doing and discuss the parking and everything around it.”
Jackson said the $385,000 cost will be offset by society savings and hopefully through its recent application for a $125,000 matching provincial Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant.
“We have ample money to balance that (grant), at least $125,000, plus a substantial donation from an individual,” he said, adding there are others in the community who are also offering donations for the project.
“If we get a grant that is great. If not, we will get some more donations from somewhere. The service clubs are behind us,” he added.
In the meantime, town officials are solidly behind the ski hill’s initiative, noting the facility is an important amenity for the community.
“It is great to see them going with that because it will ensure the longevity of it,” said Coun. Danny Rieberger. “It is a feather in our cap to have a ski hill in Innisfail. No other small town can boast that. Just look at the number of people who have learned how to ski there.”
Mayor Jim Romane said the commitment to the project by the all-volunteer society is inspiring for the community, and one that will boost the town’s profile throughout the region.
He added the new chalet will be an added attraction for out-of-town visitors who might be thinking of moving to Innisfail.
“It’s good for economics. It’s encouraging,” said Romane. “That’s basically what we are trying to do, to develop a community that encourages young families to come to town. That is what we want to see.”
For more information on the new chalet visit the ski club’s website at www.innisfailskihill.com or its Facebook page.