The City of Rossland will buy an all-weather machine to groom Centennial Trail.
Mayor Andy Morel says that’s the long-term solution to a problem that presented itself recently.
For many years, the Black Jack Ski Club groomed the trail, which is popular with dog walkers and provides a non-motorized way to get from the city to Red Mountain Ski Resort a few kilometres away.
When the club stopped grooming it, the private owner of one of the developments at the ski hill bought his own equipment and took care of the trail with a subsidy from the city. However, this fall he announced he was no longer going to continue, leaving council to decide what to do instead.
In the short-term, they will make a deal with Black Jack to rent some of their equipment for this winter. With training from the club, city staff will operate it. The estimated cost will be about $1,000 to the club and $3,500 for maintenance and fuel.
“Thankfully we’re going to have our trail up and groomed hopefully before Christmas,” Morel said. “For the community and our visitors, that’s going to be important.”
He added that maintaining a link to the resort is “certainly what we want to continue to promote, to reduce people’s time in vehicles.”
Longer-term, council will invest $70,000 on a utility vehicle and groomer attachment that can be used year-round on the trail system. It’s designed to be operated in winter with tracks and the rest of the year on tires.
Council initially thought about investing $30,000 on used equipment, but after investigating other options and “two weeks of sober second thought” they agreed Monday on the pricier option.
“It’s not always prudent to buy used equipment from a long-term investment [perspective],” Morel said. “Management can be a challenge, so we realized we’re probably better off.”