On Saturday 1 October 2022, recent amendments to the Alpine Resorts (Management) Act 1997 came into effect.

Those amendments include the abolition of the Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Buller Mount Stirling and Southern alpine resort management boards and the Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council and the establishment of Alpine Resorts Victoria (ARV) as a single entity to manage Victoria’s six alpine resorts.  This has been long planned and with winter over, ARV is now starting the job of managing the resorts.

According to a VIC government media release:

ARV is now in the process of establishing stakeholder consultative committees at each of the six resorts (check here for details on this process). Current stakeholder forums at each resort are expected to continue until the stakeholder consultative committees are established by Alpine Resorts Victoria.

Prior to their official commencement, the Board held a strategic planning day at Mount Baw Baw in September to discuss their priorities and ways of working and to meet with staff and learn more about the resort. The Board is planning to visit all the alpine resorts early in their term.

The Minister for Environment and Climate Action Lily D’Ambrosio said about these changes “This new board will provide the strategic leadership that Victoria’s alpine sector needs to deliver tourism growth and to manage the impacts of climate change.”

Business as usual? Or something more interesting?

Its not yet clear how much things will change and, to be clear, ARV hasn’t been given new powers, but a change is always a chance to move forward, and there are so many big issues we need to deal with in the resorts – the staff accommodation crisis, the onslaught of climate change, the more regular impacts of bushfires, the staffing shortages, the difficulty of making businesses viable. Is it time to get the resorts ready for the climate change driven 21st century?  (PLEASE NOTE: these are just a few ideas from me and have nothing to do with ARV):

  • ARV could rule out any further extension of the footprint of existing resorts – eg the idea of a new chairlift to Eagle Ridge at Hotham
  • It could revisit the boundaries of the resorts to give back land to conservation and human powered recreation – for instance the Mt Hotham resort currently contains all the higher alpine country from the Dargo road to beyond Hotham village
  • Creating a Backcountry Pass for people skiing and riding in the high country areas who need to access the backcountry via roads that pass through resorts and hence are subject to entry fees. The pass could cover the road management costs, ski patrol and environmental components of a regular resort pass, but not subsidise things like a village bus and garbage disposal
  • Getting on with converting all resort operations to renewable energy. Falls Creek did some great work at sourcing electricity from the Bogong Hydro scheme, wouldn’t it be great if all resorts worked towards transitioning off the current reliance on fossil fuels?
  • A single board could use its direct influence and access to the minister, and speak as a single voice to see visionary projects get underway in the resorts – for instance the wind turbine proposed in the Mt Hotham Plan (and please don’t complain about the visual impact unless you’re going to also argue that we should remove the chairlifts, the communications tower and the fire tower).