VSA questions Alpine Resorts changes
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