City closing Big Ben Ski Center

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Coming right out of the gate at Friday morning’s budget meeting, a Cornwall councillor moved to close the Big Ben Ski Hill.

“We have to start somewhere,” Coun. Andre Rivette said in his motion, supported by Coun. David Murphy.

Murphy said doing the cut now, which won’t take effect until the 2019 budget, would give Leader Sports enough advance notice to make business plans. The cut will save the city $77,000 in 2019.

Rivette added that he wanted a recorded vote in order to expose councillors who are working toward cutting spending to get to a 4 per cent levy increase and those that are not.

The final vote was 6-3 with Couns. Elaine MacDonald, Bernadette Clement and Carilyne Hebert voting against the closure.

“I’m against cutting or deferring something that affects children,” Clement said.

The city has a yearly contract with Leader Sports for running the ski hill and Marina 200.

Coun. Justin Towndale was torn about the decision, saying many ski trips he remembers as a child were to ski hills outside the city and not to Big Ben. He cited the survey showing 72 per cent of respondents voting to cut funding to the hill.

Budget chairman Denis Carr said the future council could revisit the operation in the future.

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