UPDATE: Upon learning about this GoFundMe campaign, KAR reached out to the Kimberley Bulletin with this statement:
“RCR/KAR has been working for weeks with the RCMP on a significant reward program to be offered by RCR for any information leading to the location, arrest and conviction of any suspects involved in the destruction of the lift control building on December 18th, 2021.
Details will be following soon, but there is a process we are currently going through with the RCMP to ensure it is done properly. We were not consulted by, or associated in any way with, the individuals who created the GoFundMe program asking for donations, and will not be involved in the collection or administration of those funds.”
The Resort commended the efforts and the intent of these two locals who took it upon themselves to start this campaign, but reiterated that RCR has in fact been working on a substantial reward since the fire was deemed to be arson by the RCMP.
The Bulletin will report more on this at the time RCR and KAR are able to make their announcement.
Kimberley local Kieran Hickey has taken it upon himself to start up a GoFundMe campaign with the intent of coming up with a reward for anyone who comes forward with information leading to an arrest, or arrests, in the Kimberley Alpine Resort arson investigation.
“This act of crime has been devastating to the community on all social and economic levels, and can be construed as nothing less than an outright attack on our community,” Hickey wrote on the fundraiser page.
READ MORE: Fire that damaged Kimberley ski hill’s chairlift deemed arson: RCMP
Hickey has been lived in Kimberley for 20 years and has deep ties to both the community and the ski hill.
Until a couple of years ago when he sold, he was the owner of property management business Kimberley Lodging Co. and still owns rental properties up at the resort. He also served as a city councillor for two terms. He has skied at the resort for the entirety of the time he’s lived here.
Knowing full well that the Northstar Quad Chairlift is the main artery to skiing at Kimberley Alpine Resort, when news broke that it was destroyed in a fire, Hickey immediately realized how massive an economic blow it posed to the community.
“All our competitors around aren’t dealing with their main lift not being running, and it would be like ‘why would you even want to come here if you can go ski at other places that don’t have that problem?’” he said.
“I also have to say on that, that everybody, the ski hill management and the tourists, everybody has been amazing. Although a lot of people have cancelled, a lot of people are still coming despite that, which really surprised me.”
Beyond the economic impacts to the resort, the tourism industry and the town as a whole, the biggest thing for Hickey through all of this is that someone has “maliciously and violently” taken away the community’s easy access to skiing, such an important and highly anticipated activity during the pandemic.
“My main reason for getting this GoFundMe page going is because I’m not comfortable thinking that that person is still walking around in the community,” Hickey said.
Another major reason behind launching this campaign is that Kimberley RCMP made very clear that they were able to make an arrest for the Gymnastics Club arson because of witnesses coming forward with crucial information.
READ MORE: Kimberley RCMP arrest and charge suspect for arson at Kimberley Gymnastics Club
Hickey and his friend Kevin Dunnebacke came up with idea together to launch this fundraiser. Dunnebacke approached Sgt. Woodcox of the Kimberley RCMP, and was met with a very favourable response to the idea, according to Hickey.
The money raised will be held in trust at a local law firm. If someone comes forward, the RCMP will be responsible for allocating the reward.
If no one ever comes forward with information, or a time period of two years elapses, the money will be donated to the Kimberley Food Bank.
The campaign has, at the time of writing, raised $1685 of a $25,000 goal. The link for the campaign can be found here: https://gofund.me/8fb09a85