A dozen and a half local skiers warmed the benches at City Hall Monday evening to show support for Shames Mountain Ski Hill.
Darryl Tucker from Terrace of My Mountain Co-op, the group hoping to purchase the hill, was there requesting the City of Prince Rupert write a letter asking the provincial government to forgive or reduce an historical debt if the ski hill is purchased by the co-op.
There’s approximately $550,000 in arrears because of an initial tourism infrastructure loan of $400,000 and a two percent tax on lift tickets that hasn’t been paid to the crown in several years.
Councillor Joy Thorkelson asked if the co-op will be able to purchase the hill if the loan isn’t forgiven and heard there’s been an understanding between Shames Mountain Ski Corporation and the crown, that if the hill is sold to the co-op, the debt will be paid from the sale.
“But if we’re able to have the debt forgiven, the asking price could come down, so it’s important for that reason,” Tucker explained.
The asking price is $1.25 million and for some that’s just a small cabin up at Whistler, suggested Tucker.
My Mountain Co-op is trying to raise $2 million dollars by April 30. In addition to the purchase of the hill, money would be expended to repair the chairlift ($75,000), repair the existing groomer ($25,000), eventually replace the groomer with a used one($150,000), upgrade the T-Bar ($37,000), lodge repairs ($185,000), environmental and legal fees ($100,000) and a working capital ($133,000) for the unexpected.
Looking around Tucker said, “How are we going to raise $2 million? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, and in this case one membership at a time.”
The hope is to sell 5,000 individual memberships, raising $1.5 million, 135 business memberships for $80,000 and corporate sponsorships worth $425,000.
“The reason we took 5,000 for the membership number is because the highest number of season pass holders they ever had on the ski area was 2,250. So what we’ve said is if everybody buys one and everybody sells one, roughly speaking we can hit the 5,000 mark,” Tucker told council.
So far 315 memberships have been sold.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m hopeful,” he added.
A feasibility study didn’t reveal any red flags, a site plan has been developed for expansion and the not-for-profit status of the co-op would also make the co-op eligible for funding, not accessible to businesses.
Historical five year averages showed 1,423 ski passes sold a year, just short of 10,000 visitors a year, a gross revenue of $900,000 a year and gross costs around $927,000 per year, including a heavy payment for bank charges and interest.
Tucker also asked the City to consider purchasing a business membership, worth $599, or that councillors purchase individual memberships for $299, help get the word out about the effort to save the mountain, and assist with fundraising, specifically in the promotion of the sale of 150 limited edition prints donated by First Nations Artist Roy Henry Vickers.
He described other opportunities for the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat to create events outside of the off season to help raise money.
“If we could come in with $10,000 raised from each community we could very well come into the season with a surplus situation,” he suggested.
Councillor Kathy Bedard told Tucker the City of Prince Rupert can accept donations on behalf of the co-op and issue tax receipts.
Responding Tucker suggested, “If the City of Prince Rupert, its businesses and residents want to send a challenge to Kitimat and Terrace I can take that back with me.”
Local skier Charlotte Rowse told the Northern View she will be at Cowpuccino’s Coffee House on March 31 and April 1 from 10:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. if people are interested in purchasing memberships.