By Lauren Benn
LOCAL BUSINESSES owed money by the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation have started receiving cheques.
The cheques amount to 75 cents of every dollar owed by the ski corporation to between 70 and 80 local creditors.
Ski corporation president Gerry Martin estimated that $200,000 has been distributed, proceeds from a lump sum paid by My Mountain Co-op to lease the Shames Mountain ski facility pending a final sales deal.
“We took the money that we had available … and spread it out to local suppliers,” said Martin.
He wouldn’t outline exactly how much money the co-op has paid the ski corporation but did say the corporation still has some tucked away. It’s to pay for legal and other fees arising from the lease and sales agreements. Also, it’s to satisfy a long-standing debt owed by the ski corporation to the province for a loan it took out years ago but didn’t repay.
The corporation owes the province approximately $420,000 for the loan and while Martin says that figure has been negotiated downward, he won’t be releasing details for now.
“From what we understand it is progressing satisfactorily… working its way through the approval process, and there are no unforeseen hitches with that,” he said.
The province was one of two secured creditors that needed to be repaid before local businesses saw any money.
The second was the Royal Bank of Canada. The ski corporation’s directors paid that debt from their pockets, said Martin, and did not collect any money in return from the deal with the Co-op.
“[Directors] were also very large unsecured creditors and didn’t get any of it,” said Martin, referring to loans made by them to the ski corporation. “I think the board did the honourable thing.”
Honour aside, Martin said the amount paid back to creditors wasn’t ideal but better than the alternative which would have been bankruptcy.
“I don’t feel good from the fact that everybody didn’t get everything they were owed,” said Martin. “But at the same token, I feel good about the fact that they realized something out of the sale.”
Martin explained that had the board not paid the bank, local businesses may not have seen anything. And had My Mountain Co-op not raised money to purchase the hill, or at least lease it for now, money wouldn’t have been there in the first place.
“And if the board hadn’t agreed to enter into a sub tenure agreement … there wouldn’t have been skiing this year, “ said Martin. “And to My Mountain Co-op’s credit, they expanded a lot of their resources and energy prior to having a signed agreement.”
So while the process of buying ― or at least leasing ― a mountain may have been tedious, caused angst amongst skiiers, and still isn’t finished yet, Martin says he is pleased overall.
“You have to feel good about it,” he said.
“Now we just need to keep mother nature on side, and hopefully the rest of the year goes well.”