Canada’s First Non-Profit Community Ski Co-operative?

A newly minted non-profit community co-operative, My Mountain Co-op, is trying to buy Shames Mountain Ski Area near Terrace, BC for $2 Million. By April 30, 2011. Ambitious? Yes. But how co-ops strengthen and bind the social fabric of community are well-recognized mainstays of the co-operative movement.

In the case of Shames Mountain, the social benefits of maintaining Ski Area operations are plain to see. The ski hill is one of the advantages of the area. It helps recruit and retain local professionals including health care workers, environmental consultants, and management level employees. For an area that’s been hammered by the dying forest industry, Shames Mountain is integral to the community.

Prior to forming the Co-op, a group of like minded professionals and ski enthusiast got together and formed a non-profit society called Friends of Shames. That group did two years of legwork. They hired professional consultants to assess the lifts, buildings, water and sewer systems, environmental concerns, terrain and what have you. From that, a feasibility study was completed along with a 5 year business plan. The assessment determined that a non-profit community co-operative was the best business model.

Why try to raise the money in such a short timeframe? Darryl Tucker, a founding member of the Co-op replies, ‘The current owners have had enough. They’re former business owners in the area who have retired. Even though they know the value of the hill to the community and what a great loss it would be if it shut down, they can only put their retirement funds into the business for so long. It’s time for another group to step up. My Mountain Co-op hopes to do that.’

Memberships are well-priced at $299 for individuals and $599 for businesses, with bragging rights that you own a ski hill, part of the deal!