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Mitchelmore hopes transition phase improves bottom line for Marble Mountain

Earlier this week, Christopher Mitchelmore was questioned in the House of Assembly by Tracey Perry, the Progressive Conservative legislature member for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, about Marble Mountain.
Earlier this week, Christopher Mitchelmore was questioned in the House of Assembly by Tracey Perry, the Progressive Conservative legislature member for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, about Marble Mountain. - Star file photo

Now that a plan has been made regarding how Marble Mountain will operate this coming season, the provincial government will soon start addressing the resort’s governance structure.

Last April, the province instituted a transitional board of directors for the Marble Mountain Development Corporation made up mostly of government bureaucrats as a sign that a change in direction was needed for the government-owned ski hill.

The only person who wasn’t a government employee was Tony Abbott, the ski hill’s outdoor operations manager. While Abbott was initially appointed as the chair of the transitional board, that only lasted a few weeks.

According to Tourism, Culture, Industry and Immigration Minister Christopher Mitchelmore, the operational review started by the board quickly deemed it inappropriate for Abbott to serve as both the chair and the operations manager.

Carmela Murphy, who is the assistant deputy minister in Mitchelmore’s department and had been the transitional board’s vice-chairperson, was  elevated to the chairperson position and Abbott continued in his prior role only.

In an interview Friday, Mitchelmore said the government began going through the process prescribed by the independent appointments commission to find new board members from the public at large last spring. He said those new appointments will be made soon.

Earlier this week, Mitchelmore was questioned in the House of Assembly by Tracey Perry, the Progressive Conservative legislature member for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, about Marble Mountain. In addition to questioning why Abbott was the board chair, Perry asked why the minister had not yet tabled the 2016-17 annual report from the Marble Mountain Development Corporation in the House of Assembly.

The report had actually been made available to be tabled Oct. 30. The Speaker of the House did note the following day that there had been an error and apologized for the report not having been listed as tabled.

Mitchelmore said the new changes being made as part of the ongoing operational review at Marble, including reduced fees, enhanced services and more events, are all geared towards increasing visitation at Marble Mountain by skiers and non-skiers alike.

Increasing traffic, added Mitchelmore, will also make the resort more attractive for luring private investment to develop more amenities and businesses at the ski hill’s base, which is also something the development corporation continues to work on.

More importantly, he said, is making Marble a busier place so it is less reliant on its government subsidy.

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Annual report numbers (as of year-end April 30)

- Net debt: $2,179,831 (compared to $2,215,830 in 2016)

- Net value of all assets: $12,333,295 (compared to $13,432,303 in 2016)

- Government funding: $881,400 (compared to $1,231,400, including a $300,000 forgivable loan, in 2016)

Source: Marble Mountain Development Corporation

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