Prince Rupert City Council has turned down a request from My Mountain Co-op for $200,000 toward the purchase of Shames Mountain Ski Hill.
The co-op has been trying to raise $2 million to purchase the facility, to buy the equipment, pay off a loan to the provincial government, and plan for upgrades.
Mayor Jack Mussallem confirmed Thursday the council met in-camera with a representative from the co-op in July and deliberated after the meeting that the City cannot afford to help out financially at this time.
“The council listened to a presentation, and then subsequent to that, the council deliberated. And while the council supports it and has written letters of support and letters encouraging the ongoing operations of it as a regional facility, the council could not obligate itself to contribute $200,000 financially or by a letter of irrevocable credit,” the mayor said.
It all hinges in the present financial status of the City, he added.
“The next three years the City will still have to continue on as it is now, and that is that we’ve had to defer a lot of things and deny requests from various opportunities, whether they are local or regional, just because we don’t have the wherewithal without a significant tax increase.”
If the City were to give $200,000 toward something, the way the budgets are set up in Prince Rupert, that’s equivalent to a two percent tax increase, he explained.
“Could the community afford to contribute what is an additional two percent tax increase if you’re giving something outright or a portion of that, especially if you were going to have a loan and service the loan?”
When asked why the discussion with the co-op took place in-camera, Mussallem said the request to make a presentation in-camera came from the co-op.
“After the presentation, council carried on with the discussion,”
Referring to the fact that the City of Terrace has also declined at this point to financially support the co-op’s, Mussallem said he couldn’t speak for Terrace, but felt it was a reflection of what’s been the reality of cities in the northwest.
“You’re talking about communities that over the last 12 years have had hardship, losses of industry, and loss of employees in communities, which means they’ve had a loss of population. And while we are starting to hear about economic development in the region, the communities at this point don’t have the depth to consider the request.”
Looking to the future and proposed developments, Mussallem forecasted if the request from My Mountain Co-op were to come two, three or even four years from now, it might be easier for all the communities to contribute.
“At this point, it’s just not really possible, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that there are benefits gleaned from having some sort of regional facility. It does enhance people’s lives and more opportunities for people to recreate. Over the years when people are moving into an area they not only look at their jobs, but they look at quality of life.”
Nobody would like to see the loss of the facility, he added.