2012 - Shames Mountain is celebrating over twenty years of operation in its idyllic location between Terrace and Prince Rupert in Northwest British Columbia. The mountain is known for its 'drop dead views' and more snow than any other lift-served ski area in North America. Twenty-two marked trails (over 133 acres) from beginner to double black diamond are accessed by one double chairlift, a T-bar and a handle tow. Natural glades offer 86 acres of tree skiing. Shames has a vertical of 1,600 ft. (488 m) within the ski area boundaries and spectacular backcountry skiing.
Shames Mountain was listed for sale, and after no acceptable offers were made, the owners shutting down the hill became a possibility. In the surrounding communities, residents that enjoy the ski hill and business owners that rely on the winter tourism activity it generates, established a non-profit society, Friends of Shames. This group studied different options on how to save the ski resort from being closed. Friends Of Shames developed the solution of purchasing the hill with a not-for-profit co-operative model structure. Within a non-profit co-operative business structure, the ski resort would be a community-owned business that is funded through membership fees and grants.
In order to determine if a community-owned co-operative would be feasible, Friends of Shames partnered with Northern Development, Terrace Economic Development Authority, and the Co-Operative Development Initiative to undertake preliminary work in 2010. The feasibility study addressed potential not-for-profit co-op governance structures for Shames Ski Resort, as well as identified changes that could be made to increase revenues and decrease costs and prove the potential and future viability of the ski resort. Best practices in the industry and opportunities for the region were also studied, and are featured in the feasibility study that was produced under this project.
The feasibility study was successful in outlining the most viable financial structure for operating Shames Mountain Ski Resort as a community-owned business, indicating that a co-operative model could be successful. From the results of this study, the My Mountain Co-op was created by the Friends of Shames Society in an effort to purchase the Shames Mountain Ski Resort with funds raised through the sale of lifetime memberships. The co-op has since been fundraising to come up with the two million dollars that is needed to purchase the resort. Funds are secured through individual membership sales as well as corporate and business sponsorships. My Mountain Co-Op still has a ways to go in their fundraising, but the partners involved in this project are optimistic that the feasibility study will facilitate the sale of Shames Ski Resort.
By investing in the feasibility study, Terrace, Kitimat, and Prince Rupert are working together at a community level to investigate an innovative model that has not been employed anywhere in Canada to save an important recreational and tourism asset in the region. This project is not only helping to ensure the livelihood of businesses that rely on Shames' winter tourism related economic activity, but many residents now have the opportunity to not only use their local ski hill, but to own it and keep it in the community. The hill adds value to the region by providing jobs, but mostly by providing current and future residents another reason to make northwest British Columbia their home.