Snow Farm gets council cash

BY JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 15/09/2010

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The Queenstown Lakes District Council has come up with more than $400,000 to help buy a skifield.

Developers John and Mary Lee have agreed to sell Snow Farm cross-country skifield near Wanaka for $2 million.

The council yesterday announced its intention to help raise funds to cement the buyout, which is led by the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust.

Last year the council granted $212,000 of Wanaka rural reserve development contributions to help fund the proposed purchase of Snow Farm, the only cross-country skifield in New Zealand.

More reserve contributions brought the council's share of the buy-in to $412,500, so about $1.5m of public and private donations are needed to fulfil the purchase agreement.

The trust was set up in 2008 to raise money to buy Snow Farm.

Mr Lee said selling to a trust was a sensible way to preserve Snow Farm.

He said he was not too concerned who owned the skifield as long as it retained its cross-country tracks.

Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust secretary John Alexander, of Arrowtown, said the agreement meant the council would own 310 hectares of reserve land and the trust would run the business.

Working with the council was the best way to preserve the cross-country business, he said.

He said there was potential to develop the skifield, including summer activities, education, mountain biking trails and walking tracks.

Asked if he was concerned commercial operators might take exception to a council-backed skifield, he said Snow Farm was not in competition with other slopes.

While the business was profit-making it was commercially "touch and go", he said.

"We have been successful with the council contribution and now we're about to start fundraising for the balance of the money we need to secure the land.

"We think the council is going to be creating a wonderful asset for the district," he said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council community services manager Paul Wilson said the council would help attract public and private backers.

The deal would create an outstanding public reserve and bring recreational and economic benefits, he said.

The sale, pending successful fundraising, is expected to be complete by next winter.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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