THE GROUP that wants to buy Shames Mountain and turn it into a non-profit co-operative will abandon the project if it doesn’t raise $2 million by the end of the year.
“We need to draw a line in the sand somewhere on when we’re just going to give up and return the money to the membership, and we chose that date so that it could be wrapped into people’s taxation year,” said Jon Hopper, one of My Mountain Co-op’s founding directors.
But he said right now, the initiative is carrying on.
“The ultimate goal is to make this thing happen,” he said. “And we will keep pushing until we get there, or it’s just deemed unfeasible.”
The current owners, the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation, has had Shames Mountain for sale for several years and recently dropped the asking price to $1.3 million.
A local group of volunteers called the Friends of Shames put forth the My Mountain Co-op concept.
The Co-op had originally set a deadline of the end of April to come up with $2 million – $1.3 million to buy the mountain and another $700,000 for costs and improvements. When it fell short of the mark, it then posted a May 31 target date.
As of late last week, the Co-op has raised $340,000 through 667 personal memberships and 69 corporate and business sponsorships.
“Essentially, it was an internally imposed deadline to try and stimulate the urgency of this. People aren’t getting the urgency,” Hopper said of the April and May target dates.
“There is a real risk of losing this regional recreation asset if we cannot secure the necessary funds to secure ownership of the assets of the ski area, complete necessary repairs and maintenance of the equipment on the mountain, and attain the necessary working capital to ensure this ski area is on a financially sustainable footing for the future,” said a My Mountain Co-op press release June 8.
Hopper says the co-op initiative is contingent on continual fundraising and membership sales to have the purchase money in hand and to do required maintenance.
“To make this a go, we need to make this purchase agreement, have it signed within the next month or two, because we need to hire a general manager and get going on the summer maintenance,” he said. “We’ve really identified about $600,000 dollars worth of repairs we want to make, so we need the money to make them, and we need the time to get them done.”
Shames Ski Corp.’s Gerry Martin said it wants the sale process to start by the end of June as the co-op has a “whole bunch of things they have to do.”
The co-op and the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding May 5 to establish negotiations leading to a purchase agreement. The intention is for the co-op to run the mountain this winter.
Meanwhile, Shames Mountain has yet to start selling its traditional early bird season passes.
“We’re hoping, actually, that the Co-op will get that organized,” Martin said of the season pass sale.
“They not only need the early season pass sale from a revenue point of view, but it’s the message that it sends out there, that yes, things are going ahead, and yes, the mountain’s going to be open, those kinds of things,” he continued.
My Mountain Co-op had wanted to start selling passes in June but Hopper said it can’t proceed until there’s a signed purchase agreement.
“We’ve done well, but we’re not where we’re need to be,” he said.
The co-op is seeking nominations for its first board of directors. Elections will take place this September and the board will be finalized before the co-op’s first annual general meeting, also to take place in September. The board will consist of between five and nine directors depending on the number of nominations received, and nominations are still being accepted.
The four founding directors – Hopper, Curtis Billey, Jamie Hahn and Shaun Stevenson – will be responsible for the Co-op until then.