Co-op gears up for skiing

Season passes for Shames Mountain skiing this year start selling today.

Season passes for Shames Mountain skiing this year started selling yesterday..

The local non-profit looking to buy the hill is moving ahead with what needs to be done to get the facility up and running in time for the ski season as it waits on the completion of a final purchase deal to be signed.

My Mountain Co-op’s (MMC) selling of passes at early bird rates and changing its website in support of day to day operations represents a shift away from raising money for the purchase.

Office staff have also been hired, and the co-op will be hiring filling the key positions of general manager of operations at the hill and maintenance manager very soon.

Last Saturday marked MMC’s first work party at the hill on the same day brushing started, which is the removal of bushes, overgrowth and such in ski areas to enable a smoother snow surface.

And although the final dotted line has yet to have a signature on it for the purchase, a volunteer for MMC said a purchase agreement has been written and submitted and should be signed within the coming weeks after some finer details have been hammered out.

A letter of understanding has been executed and signed with the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation outlining the basic conditions of sale for the transfer of control of the ski area to MMC,” said Meredith Skimson in a letter to the public outlining MMC’s accomplishments so far. “We are hopeful to conclude the agreement in the coming weeks.”

Still remaining to be seen is whether or not a debt to the province for about $600,000 incurred by current owners Shames Mountain Ski Corp.  will be forgiven or otherwise dealt with.

The majority of the debt, $419,994, is from a tourism development loan and the remaining $147,751 is for payments in return for using Shames Mountain under a lease arrangement in which 2 per cent of lift sales are given to the province each year.

This amount was left out of the current purchase price of $550,000 to be paid over three years. This price does, however, include about $200,000 owed to local businesses.

MMC has currently raised about $500,000 from individual members, businesses and government, said Skimson in her letter.

Of that amount, $100,000 comes from the Kitimat-Stikine regional district and $15,000 is from the City of Terrace. Both bodies have, however, said the money has to be used for operations and not to help buy the ski facility. The co-op has also asked Kitimat for money. A similar request made to Prince Rupert was turned down.