Kitimat council has agreed to give the My Mountain Co-op (MMC) $15,000 provided it is used only for operation of the Shames Mountain ski hill, not to purchase it.
But the vote was not unanimous.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff said having a ski hill nearby added to the quality of life of Kitimatians and helped attract new residents.
That view was shared by colleagues Bob Corless, Rob Goffinet, Corinne Scott and mayor Joanne Monaghan.
Corless told the Northern Sentinel that he had voted against giving the co-op money in the Kitimat-Stikine regional district vote – he is Kitimat’s rep on the RD.
However, he had changed his mind given all the work done by volunteers to get the venture where it was.
But councillors Randy Halyk and Gerd Gottschling were not persuaded.
“We have to be really careful where we spend our money and I believe we need to spend it in the community, not outside of it,” said Halyk.
And Gottschling pointed out the privately owned Shames Mountain Corporation that built the hill had been one of continual red ink.
During the presentation to council, MMC directors Curtis Billey and Linda Parker mentioned Rio Tinto Alcan as an interested party, and that RTA had told the co-op the chances of getting money from them were stronger if they could show community support.
Rio Tinto Alcan official Colleen Nyce confirmed last week it has been talking with the co-op about some kind of financial assistance.
“We’re now waiting for them to come back with a business plan,” she said. “We’re asking them to show us how it would be a sustainable operation.”
Nyce said Rio Tinto Alcan would be more willing to provide some kind of assistance in purchasing the mountain than in aid for expenses every year.
“If it was a case of them having to come back year after year, then it would not be sustainable,” she said. “That would be a false sustainability. They would need to show a sustainable business plan.”
Nyce said Rio Tinto Alcan does recognize the role Shames Mountain plays in adding to the quality of life in the area.
“It’s a great regional asset for young and old,” she said.
Meanwhile MMC is working away at closing a financing gap of nearly $300,000 this year and several hundred thousand dollars more in succeeding years.
It has raised about $380,000 so far to buy the mountain, but needs $550,000 for the purchase price and is spending $250,000 this year on mountain and facilities maintenance, $150,000 on other equipment this year as well as maintaining an operating account of $60,000.
A preliminary purchase agreement negotiated with the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation, the current owners of the Shames facility, calls for a three-year payout requiring $200,000 this year and the remaining $350,000 in the next two years.