VSA ques­tions Alpine Re­sorts changes

Alpine News - - Property Guide -

THE Vic­to­rian Snows­ports As­so­ci­a­tion’s (VSA) an­nual gen­eral meet­ing has been told there is in­dus­try con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the state gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als to re­struc­ture Vic­to­ria’s Alpine Re­sorts man­age­ment.

This fol­lows pub­lic and stake­holder sub­mis­sions to the gov­ern­ment’s Alpine Re­sorts Gov­er­nance Re­form (ARGR) dis­cus­sions pa­per in March and on­go­ing con­cerns about the changes that have been ex­pressed by the in­dus­try.

For­mer VSA pres­i­dent Rob An­der­son said that notwith­stand­ing the gov­ern­ment spon­sored stake­holder work­shops and a meet­ing with the min­is­ter, it was un­clear what was motivating the gov­ern­ment to change re­sorts man­age­ment, in­clud­ing the two op­tions be­ing can­vassed.

The first would lump all re­sorts un­der one over­ar­ch­ing au­thor­ity, while the sec­ond breaks re­sorts into re­gions based on ge­og­ra­phy. In the sec­ond op­tion Mount Buller and Mount Stir­ling would be joined by Mount Hotham and Falls Creek in a north­ern al­liance, and Lake Moun­tain and Mount Baw Baw would form the south­ern group.

Mr An­der­son said that while the gov­ern­ment was sit­ing cli­mate change as the prin­ci­pal rea­son for the re­view, it had not fully con­sid­ered or ex­plained the eco­nomic con­se­quences of its pro­posed changes.

‘ The VSA has been en­cour­ag­ing gov­er­nance re­form for over a decade to make snows­ports more af­ford­able and com­pet­i­tive with other sports and tourist des­ti­na­tions; this has not hap­pened,’ he said.

‘In­stead of costs be­ing un­der con­trol, the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning (DELWP) has cost shifted, to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent, to snows­ports users, caus­ing fur­ther pain for users who re­main un­rep­re­sented on re­sort boards.’

‘Re­sort rates and ser­vice charges have con­tin­ued to rise sharply. Any new man­age­ment model must ad­dress a more com­pet­i­tive mar­ket and costs must be more eq­ui­tably shared, in­clud­ing ac­cess to mu­nic­i­pal style fund­ing for re­sorts cap­i­tal works sim­i­lar to what coun­cils en­joy,’ he said.

Since seed­ing com­pet­i­tive snows­ports ad­min­is­tra­tion to Ski and Snow­board Aus­tralia, VSA has changed its con­sti­tu­tion to rep­re­sent snows­ports con­sumers, re­sort ratepay­ers and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors.

In­com­ing VSA pres­i­dent John Aird , who also chairs the Mt Buller Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, said there was no di­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tion cur­rently on re­sort boards for user groups and it was vi­tal to have a strong rep­re­sen­ta­tive body to work with gov­ern­ment on man­age­ment and gov­er­nance is­sues.

‘We see the VSA as the co­or­di­nat­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion to en­gage with gov­ern­ment and the re­sorts to en­sure equity, gov­er­nance and per­for­mance for all users,’ he said.

‘As such we in­tend to play an ac­tive role in ne­go­ti­a­tions on re­sort man­age­ment changes, in­clud­ing a struc­ture that pro­vides di­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tion for user groups in fu­ture plans.

‘ The VSA was re­spon­si­ble for ne­go­ti­at­ing fairer Plain English Leases for ski clubs and units and has also ad­vised clubs re­gard­ing lease re­newals; we in­tend to con­tinue this work.’

Other mem­bers of the VSA com­mit­tee elected at the AGM were vice pres­i­dent David Risby, who is also pres­i­dent of Falls Creek Alpine As­so­ci­a­tion, John Jenkin sec­re­tary, and vice pres­i­dent Mount Baw Baw Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, and Rob An­der­son trea­surer, and sec­re­tary Mt Hotham Ski As­so­ci­a­tion.

Mean­while DELWP has been un­der­tak­ing an as­sess­ment for Vic­to­rian alpine re­sorts on plan­ning adap­tion to cli­mate change to iden­tify cur­rent sci­en­tific re­search and an­tic­i­pated im­pacts of cli­mate change for alpine en­vi­ron­ments and their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

Work­shops ti­tled The Alpine Re­sorts Cli­mate Change Adap­tion project have been held at all re­sorts to at­tempt to find ‘shared val­ues’ on the moun­tain and in the re­gion.

The find­ings and con­sen­sus at­tained through the work­shops process will likely be the foun­da­tion of the state gov­ern­ment’s medium to long term pol­icy con­cern­ing the alpine re­sorts.

◆ John Aird, Vic­to­rian Snows­ports As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent

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