THE PRESIDENT of the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation is optimistic it can work out a deal with My Mountain Co-op in time to allow skiing on Shames Mountain this winter.
At play are two arrangements with the all-volunteer co-op group: one to sell and the other to operate the ski development, says Gerry Martin.
Owners of the financially-challenged Shames Mountain Ski Corporation put the mountain up for sale several years ago after deciding they no longer wanted to put their own money into keeping the business afloat.
“The business model as it is now doesn’t work so perhaps it’s time for another model and that is the co-op model,” said Martin.
“The co-op would have access to grants and other programs,” he added, financial assistance that would be more readily available to an entity based on community membership.
Martin did say the corporation is committed to getting all arrangements in place next month to allow the co-op the time to hire staff, sell tickets, continue raising money and undertake maintenance and other work leading to a winter opening.
Traditionally, Shames Mountain has begun ramping up its operations by this time each year.
This year, however, Shames has no employees and no general manager.
Martin was clear that if the mountain opens this year, it won’t be operated by the Shames corporation.
“I would say no, but we’re doing everything possible to make it possible for My Mountain Co-op to open,” he said.
The ski corporation wants $1.2 million for the operation and the co-op wants to raise $2 million in total to give it money for repairs and improvements.
To date, My Mountain Co-op has raised close to $400,000, a sum being held in trust and which will be returned should its plan fall through.
Martin did say there was a chance that a portion of the money the co-op has already collected might be considered the first payment of a staged buyout of the ski corporation.
But he added it was also important for the co-op to have operating capital on hand immediately to cover startup expenses.
The co-op had also asked the Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat municipal governments and the Kitimat-Stikine regional district for $200,000 each.
Prince Rupert and Terrace city councils have already turned down the request.
Martin’s optimism comes despite
describing the Terrace council decision as disappointing at a time when it needed to show leadership in the bid to save the mountain.
“I find it really ironic that this council has repeatedly expressed its support for Shames Mountain and said how important it is for the community and for the quality of life that it now will not support it financially,” he said.
Martin said a financial contribution from Terrace would have sent a clear signal to corporations and other entities My Mountain approached for monetary aid.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s not just that the city did contribute financially, it’s the message that it sent,” said Martin.
The co-op sent out request packages, backed up by letters of support from Terrace council and other regional governments, to more than 50 corporations but has yet to receive any contributions in return.
Martin also said the lack of a ski facility would place Terrace at a disadvantage to Smithers, which does have Hudson Bay Mountain, in trying to attract companies looking for places with as many amenities for its employees as possible.
But a successful deal between Shames Mountain and the co-op would give the latter’s efforts to raise money a lift, he said.