Ski hill group seeks forgiveness

A non-profit group hoping to buy Shames Mountain will soon be knocking on Kitimat council’s door.

A non-profit group hoping to buy Shames Mountain will soon be knocking on Kitimat council’s door.

My Mountain Co-op, a creation of Friends of Shames, is trying to get the federal and provincial governments to write off debt owed by the for-profit company that is selling the ski hill.

The co-op already has the support of the Kitimat-Stikine regional district for its write-off plan and is now asking municipal councils in the region for the same.

If the provincial and federal governments do write off the debt, the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation will reduce its $1.29 million asking price by the same amount.

The corporation owes the federal and provincial governments as much as $400,000 in a loan taken out more than 20 years ago and a so-far unspecified amount to the province from chairlift revenues in return for a lease on the mountain.

Co-op spokesman Darryl Tucker said last week it had yet to book appearances before Kitimat and Prince Rupert municipal councils.

The co-op kicked off its campaign to raise money in February and has a goal of $2 million, enough for the posted sale price of $1.29 million and with money left over for repairs, maintenance and other costs.

As of late last week, Tucker said the co-op had raised approximately $50,000.

Shames Mountain Ski Corporation president Gerry Martin said it has tried to have its debt written off before.

“I’ve had communications with different government ministries over the years around getting that loan forgiven, because my understanding is that there is some history of that happening with other people who had that loan. I’ve just never been able to steer it through the system,” said Martin.

“They would have a lot better chance at it, being a not-for-profit…than we did,” he added of the co-op’s efforts.

In the meantime, an official with the provincial finance ministry said debts may be written off or forgiven in rare cases when they are deemed uncollectable.

But Sarah Harrison said the ministry will also develop payments plans with companies so they can meet their financial obligations.

She couldn’t comment on the exact amount of principal and interest still owed by the Shames Mountain Ski Corporation.

The ministry also doesn’t have records available of similar loans that were written off, Harrison added.

An official from the natural resource operations ministry, which holds the lease with the ski corporation, said it would require its debt to be paid before transferring the lease to new owners.

David Currie also said the ministry works with companies to develop repayment plans.