Potential ski hill buyers chart ambitious course

THE CO-OP group hoping to keep the Shames Mountain ski facility running as a non-profit venture by purchasing it from its private owners wants to sell 5,000 memberships at $299 each to help raise $2 million by the end of April.

  • Feb. 26, 2011 4:00 p.m.

THE CO-OP group hoping to keep the Shames Mountain ski facility running as a non-profit venture by purchasing it from its private owners wants to sell 5,000 memberships at $299 each to help raise $2 million by the end of April.

Business memberships cost $599 each and the My Mountain Co-op, a creation of Friends of Shames, is also looking for additional investment by selling sponsorships ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

Friends of Shames board member Darryl Tucker believes the membership target is possible.

During Shames Mountain’s peak period of a decade ago, 2,200 season passes were sold.

That’s dropped to 1,000 core pass holders but Tucker said membership interest will grow as word spreads.

The $2 million needed by the end of April is enough, says the Friends of Shames group, to meet the $1.295 million purchase price wanted by the current owners with the rest going toward sale closing costs and repairs and maintenance.

The current owners, a core group which opened the facility just over 20 years ago, have been running the mountain at a loss and have said they aren’t prepared to subsidize it for very much longer.

Tucker said the non-profit community co-operative model provides for opportunities not available to a private company.

The non-profit community (co-operative) gives you the potential to read into the (government grant) program and see if there’s a fit,” Tucker said. “Whereas when you’re a for-profit corporation like Shames is today, they’ve been shut down in opportunities…because there were for-profit.”

By the end of last week, the Friends group had raised $9,000, most of it from an event held at Shames to begin its sales campaign.

The money gathered is being put in a trust under the Co-op’s name, and will be returned to individuals and businesses if the purchase falls through.

The repairs and maintenance list for Shames includes work needed on the chair lift, T-bar and lodge.

Lifetime memberships are intended to provide purchasers with various discounts.

Tucker said revenues could be boosted by keeping the mountain’s pub open longer hours and by events taking place year round.

An impromptu auction at the Feb. 19 sales launch resulted in Terrace’s Bruno Belanger paying $1,000 for the first individual membership. Kitimat Veterinary Hospital’s Howard Thwaites paid $2,000 for the first business membership.

The Friends of Shames now has office space thanks to the city providing six months of rent-free accommodation at Kwinitsa House on the corner of Hwy16 and Eby.