Vitosha mountain ski runs to open this winter, officials say
Vitosha Ski, the company that manages the ski lifts on Vitosha Mountain near Sofia, has agreed to rent and maintain the ski runs on the mountain during the winter season, ensuring that winter sports aficionados from Sofia will have the opportunity to use the skiing facilities closest to the Bulgarian capital this coming season – unlike last year.
A year ago, Vitosha Ski refused to operate the lifts last year arguing that the existing regulatory framework did not allow it to carry out the necessary maintenance work. This prompted a flurry of legislative action to amend the Forestry Act to facilitate ski infrastructure development on state land, amid protests from eco-campaigners that the changes served the interests of a small circle of ski resort developers at the expense of nature conservation.
Even after the company started running the lifts again last month, it remained uncertain whether it would rent the ski runs, as it did in previous years. But company representatives were apparently persuaded to do so after Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, Environment Minister Nona Karadjova and Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naidenov on September 12.
The contract would be signed by the end of October and the rental price would be set by an independent assessor, Naidenov said after the meeting.
Vitosha Ski earlier refused to sign the short-term rental, demanding a long-term deal. Such a contract, however, would required a detailed development plan of the skiing areas – Vitosha Ski’s proposal, which envisioned new ski runs and lifts, was rejected the Environment Ministry under pressure from environmental groups. (This in turn led to the Forestry Act amendments passed by Parliament that sparked street protests in June, prompting President Rossen Plevneliev to veto the bill.)
“We are looking for a long-term solution for the problem, rather than signing a contract without tender every year,” Forestry Agency deputy director Krassimir Kamenov said after the meeting, referring to the need to draft a detailed development plan of the skiing zones.
(Vitosha mountain in winter, photo by Boby Dimitrov/flickr.com)