REPORTING · 23rd August 2011
Links to video and more attached below
The evening began with around 100 protesters chanting “Vote for Shames, Vote for Shames” in the parking lot outside Terrace City Hall. It ended with Councillor Leclerc announcing the commitment of 100 thousand dollars from the Regional District.
There were so many twists and turns in the proceedings one could be excused for misunderstanding much of it.
It all began two weeks earlier when the Terrace City Council turned down the request from the ‘Shames My Mountain Co-op’ (MMC) request for a $200,000 donation to their cause.
Councillor Bruce Martindale, apparently not one to take rejection well, contacted all of the local media in the intervening two weeks between council meetings to get publicity on his upcoming motion to have Council commit just over $90,000 the City has in ‘unallocated’ funds to MMC. Another MMC member used facebook and other social media to organize a protest rally, to be held just before the next Council meeting (yesterday, August 22), in front of Terrace City Hall.
As Martindale’s motion was only available to be heard under the portion of the regular Council meeting called ‘New Business’, those MMC supporters who wished to witness the proceedings had to wait through two hours of typically boring Council business.
As soon as the ‘New Business’ portion of the meeting began Mayor David Pernarowski allowed Martindale to read his motion. When he was finished and after it was seconded, making the motion open for discussion, Pernarowski shut it down claiming Martindale had to excuse himself as he was in a conflict of interest.
Martindale was livid. He refused to accept this without a fight.
Bruce Martindale owns McBike, a recreational business specializing in bicycles; off road, street and trick bikes. He is an avid sportsman who engages in much of the recreational spirit of Terrace and the surrounding area. He claimed he had nothing to do with the Ski Hill; he did not sell ski related equipment and therefore had no conflict. Pernarowski saw it differently and quoted Martindale from a CBC radio interview he had just conducted. Simply put, Martindale claimed during this interview that the recreational person, a skier, might also be a cyclist, hiker and would likely be engaged in other outdoor recreational activities. This he claimed would have his business and many others benefitting from the success of the ‘My Mountain Co-op’ attempt to keep the Ski Hill viable and open.
With an astonishing amount of struggle, with other Councillors encouraging Martindale to recognize the conflict, truly apparent or just perceived, Martindale finally accepted the inevitable, due to his CBC interview statements, and left the room. This left the remaining five Councillors and the Mayor to debate the issue of giving the MMC $90,000.
Councillor Dr. Bruce Bidgood spoke in favour of the Co-op and was fully prepared to set aside the $90,000 plus to MMC. In fact Bidgood, as was recorded in the last Council meeting, was prepared to set aside and even borrow if necessary the full $200,000 requested for the venture. Councillor Brian Downie was in the same camp.
This was the exact same makeup as the August 8, 2011, Council meeting.
On August 8, 2011, there were 6 councillors and the Mayor. Martindale, Downie and Bidgood all voted for the $200,000 to MMC. Councillors Pollard, Christiansen, Leclerc and Mayor Pernarowski voted against the motion. Last night, Monday August 22, the only difference was Martindale was not in the room for the vote; instead of 4 to 3 against, last night it was worse, 4 to 2.
Residents and Councillors all got to have their say. The majority decision of Council was primarily focused on the taxpaying public. They felt they couldn’t commit this amount of money without at least a referendum. The MMC audience countered that the City spent much more money on other projects without any consultation.
Coast Mountain School District Trustee Art Erasmus was poignant. He spoke to the 1 million the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce pushed the City to spend purchasing the old decrepit Co-op, which the City has now committed more than another quarter million to demolish. Erasmus also addressed the $900,000 Terrace invested in 2005 into the Terrace Lumber Company promoted by John Ryan and the Chamber without community consultation. He then pointed out how little, in comparison, the $90,000 being considered at this Council meeting was. Another citizen asked the Mayor how much was being spent on other recreational facilities in Terrace.
Others spoke to the Ice Rink in Terrace, the second sheet, which serves only a select group of citizens. One speaker mentioned how the new second sheet did not even provide an acceptable level of space for an audience to watch a Hockey game or other sport in the new facility. A referendum was held regarding the second sheet of ice/Sportsplex and it was voted down. Regardless, the City went ahead with it.
MMC has suffered another loss with this second vote against the City contributing funds.
Councillor Leclerc was the only elected official to offer a ray of hope. She spoke about how the Regional District Kitimat Stikine had decided to donate $100,000 of the monies they received from the Provincial Government in grant money in lieu of taxes from the Kemano power generation and transmission lines crossing the RDKS. This she stated was passed by the board of the RDKS but the funds were only to be used for operating expenses.
Leclerc also delivered a comprehensive report on the history of the Shames Mountain Ski Hill operation. Bluntly put, it has never made money and it never paid for the assets. When the Shames Mountain Corporation bought the Kitsumkalum Ski Hill equipment from the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) they did not pay the debt. They did not pay the Provincial Government the debt either.
“In 1975 the Kitsumkalum ski hill was created by the Regional District, the ski hill was close to town, snow was an issue and it was a tough ski hill" read Leclerc from a prepared statement, "The Ski Hill closed in 1987, 1989. In 1986 the original bill of sale by the Shames Mountain Corporation was $306,000. And that was for all the buildings and stuff like that. A year later there was a debenture put on in 1987 for $313,000 because the $306,000 was not being paid. By 1992 this was amended to have a $345,000 debt on it. On January 29th 1993 a letter was sent to the provincial government from the Regional District and it states, ‘Shames Mountain Ski Corporation is again in default of its debenture with the Regional District. The Corporation failed to meet its January 1st 1993 payment obligation and has advised it is not in a position to fulfill this obligation.' By 1994, 2.2 million 796 dollars was spent on the ski hill by tax payers. In 2000 the debt was finally written off by the Regional district books. Shames Mountain Corporation never paid their debt to the Regional District.”
Leclerc went on to speak about how various members of MMC and the community claim the Ski Hill brings and retains professionals to the Terrace area. She spoke about her own career in personnel and how she also referred to the ski hill as a benefit. Leclerc then challenged MMC to go out to the industry and have them put their money into keeping the ski hill a viable entity. Leclerc also referred to Terrace former Mayor Jack Talstra on the divisions this issue has created. “When council is split the community is split.” This she added was why she wished this issue would go to a referendum.
During the final questions from the audience portion of the meeting, Councillor Martindale demonstrated how upset he was with the proceedings. While the Mayor was engaging and explaining the issues and decisions with the public, Martindale pushed back his chair and loudly stated that he had better remove himself from the Chambers. When asked why, he stated he didn’t want to be in a conflict again. There was no motion, no vote and no debate and he was told he had no reason to leave. Mumbling in discontent he sat down again. Watch the entire proceedings regarding the Shames Mountain Co-op with supporters entering the Council Chambers by clicking on this Vimeo link.Click on the attachments below to see further video segments.
Mayor Pernarowski stands with a promoters sign
Walking through the crowd
Mayor Pernarowski between Councillors Christianson and Dr. Bidgood
2.2 million already and more is needed?
Comment by shelby raymond on 25th August 2011
I think the taxpayers have already paid enough into this facility. Lets use the money for important things - like affordable daycare for young children, housing... Throwing good money after bad is foolish. If this has the possibility of being viable then why isn't a private entity willing to invest? Are there things lacking in this ski hill? Height? Infrastructure? Sounds like a lot of money has to be spent to bring it up to modern standards and maybe, it's not a high enough quality ski hill to merit the investment. Can you sell housing there, as they do in Smithers? We got a great sale job on the sawmill - good money after bad. We got a great sales job on the purchase of the Coop building and now what are we doing? spending more. This is a sad pattern to contribute to in a very challenging financial time. Are people really going to move away if they don't have a ski hill in their back yard? There is a ski hill within two hours drive - most folks would consider that a pretty darned good asset for the region. I say no more. Fix our streets, add more bike and walking trails, improve parks, a recycling program - quit throwing money down the drain.
Another media person agrees
Comment by Merv on behalf of ... on 25th August 2011
I don't wish to get into the MMC discussion on this point, but I agree with your interpretation of Martindale's behaviour at Monday night's council meeting.
He was petulant as a teen refused Mom's car keys. From my viewing of council as it streamed on the internet, Martindale appeared to be ready to blow his cork.
He had no reason to interrupt the mayor and shove back his chair while the mayor spoke to the audience member. I saw that as a show-off tactic designed to impress his sympathetic audience.
He seems not to know Robert''s rules of order, and certainly doesn't appreciate how a media interview can quickly get him into a corner politically.
If you wish to publish this anonymously not identifying me in any way, I have no objection.
Keep up your reporting and videos. Nothing as good as seeing with your own eyes.
Comment by mb weston on 25th August 2011
After seeing that Bruce Martindale was pegged as being 'livid' I just had to view the entire proceedings on video.
Mr Ritchie, I beg to differ. Bruce was certainly defending his position but he was not livid, and he was not disrespectful or disruptive.
I know drama when I see it and on this already delicate issue we don't need anyone drumming up extra drama where there is none.
Editor Note: We can then maybe agree to disagree. We never stated he was disruptive or disrespectful. So the remaining word under debate is 'livid'. Your definition of this word may be different than ours.
Livid: 2: Flushed, purplish, etc., as from intense emotion Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary
He was so upset his skin colour visibly changed. And later he got out of his chair while the audience was asking questions at the conclusion of the meeting in an effort to further demonstrate how upset he was and again he was flushed. He later, outside, stated to us he did not want to discuss it as he was too upset at the moment. The only drama performed was by Martindale and the protestors. We reported on the event factually.
Suggestion for Rod Gee
Comment by Lori on 25th August 2011
I'd suggest to Mr Gee to stop using words like challenge.
In fact, I think both MMC and FOS are in desperate need of a new message and direction.
How about Our Mountain Co-op for starters?
if not public, go private
Comment by rod gee on 24th August 2011
As a local business owner (and no, not a Chamber member), I'm going to contact the Terrace, Pr Rupert and Kitimat Chambers of Commerce and ask them to challenge their members to be a part of a cooperatively-owned Shames ski area.
The challenge could be for each member to contribute the equivalent of their total Input Tax Credits since the introduction of the 12% HST over and above what their ITC's were under the 7% GST! This would be a great way for local businesses to support local "ownership" of an incredible recreational facility that contributes to the quality of life in the Northwest!!!!
Thank you Terrace Daily
Comment by Dr. B. A. Bidgood on 24th August 2011
Unfortuantely, this is a decent and well-balanced description of what happened with the MMC motion. It must be absolutely clear, however, that Mayor and Council have an obligation to inquire in the event of a perceived conflict. The issue of conflict was raised in multiple media sources on the very day of the vote; precipitated by the mover's decision to discuss the issue in the national media. Council had to inquire and ask for an explanation. No one asked the mover to remove him/her self from the meeting. He/She recused him/her self. This is not a small point of order and why every single member of Council has stepped out of the room at times....to ensure the public that we are voting ONLY in the public interest.
Perhaps By-Law enforcement?
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 24th August 2011
The city always discusses not enough money for a full time bylaw enforcement officer. The city likely could gain substainstial amounts of money with properly administering and anforcing by laws.
Just a thought, generates revenue and keeps people honest.
Again.. Support comes in many ways.
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 24th August 2011
The City of Terrace IS supporting MMC by providing them FREE office space and admin assistance. This is support. a great deal more support than some other non-profits have received.
MMC needs to start acknowleding and appreciating support outside of simple dollars and cents. The city has provided them a great location with lots of exposure.
The city has written letters and will continue to write letters of support as they do for other not for profits. And in a few years when interest starts coming in on the Terrace Community Fund maybe MMC can apply to that fund and have the same opportunity for requests as any other not for profit.
But implying the city is NOT being supportive because they are not throwing tax dollars at it, is simply untrue. This is why I am frustrated. Support comes in many ways. Until MMC, FoS and their supporters can acknowledge that and appreciate it, I will continue to be frustrated.
Question about the business plan
Comment by Lori on 24th August 2011
Does the business plan include taking over the bad debt from the current owners, then trying to unload it, as Mr Hopper has suggested?
Comment by chris on 24th August 2011
Martindale got the boot because of perceived conflict of interest. How about the farmer's market? Hasn't the city bucked up to support it in the past? Has Christiansen always removed herself from market/ city votes? How about Hockeyville? Co-op bldg, etc. Have other councillors benefitted from the city supporting unique projects.... I think so....
So, maybe a boycott of the farmer's market (select booths) is in order....
Keep it up.
Comment by Joe Taxpayer on 24th August 2011
Keep it up MMC. I am sure all the hard work you are doing will pay off. Unfortunately, I have to agree with council on this. There are more urgent items that need attention.
Yes, I am talking about the Co-op building. It has to go. The paint job was an absolute failure. If it was left as it was, I am sure it would not be such an issue.
The streets need attention. I have never lived in a place where you have ditches in residential parts of town. Drive down EBY and look at the patchwork, it only going to get worse.
Please read the business plan
Comment by iSki on 24th August 2011
"The hill will need over-night accomodations (approach the college about post and beam cottages and/or a hostel)"
Having just read the MMC Business Plan, you will find on page 6 of the MMC Business Plan (Executive Summary) a chart outlining their 5 year plan and part of that is a partnership with NWCC to build on hill accommodations (hostel)...having it as part of NWCC students curriculum. You will find at the bottom of page 9 that they further discuss this partnership with NWCC.
I hope that people take the time to read the business plan...it provides answers to many questions. It can be found at www.mymountaincoop.ca click on FAQs and Resources and you will find it in the list.
Hypocrisy at its finest.
Comment by Mr. Peters on 24th August 2011
Support Shames Ski Hill as a part of Terrace’s outdoor identity and maintain it as a viable and sustainable destination that is accessible to the local community. P66
The above is a direct quote from Terrace's own sustainability strategy handbook. So much for their lofty ideals. Watching this "debate" the only thing I kept on wonder is if our esteemed major is naturally that stupid or has he been taking classes on how to better be stupid.
$100,000 from the RDKS?
Comment by Kory Yamashita on 24th August 2011
Thanks for the detailed and even-handed coverage of the Shames discussions at the Council meeting yesterday. You mentioned in your article $100,000 from the RDKS for operating expenses. I was at the meeting and don’t recall that being brought up. Can you please provide some context (was it at the end of the meeting) and perhaps some further background if you have any?? (perhaps a clarification to your article).
Editor note: Leclerc detailed this during her comments in the 'New Business' portion of the meeting. This was after Martindale returned. You can watch everything she said in the video attached above.
We have also been told the Directors of the RDKS discussed this "In Camera" and no director was allowed/permitted to speak about this decision until Tuesday, meaning she spoke about something "embargoed" before she was permitted.
MMC needs to go BIG
Comment by Karen on 24th August 2011
I totally commend the efforts of all of you who are working hard to save Shames Mountain. But, even you must see that your hard work has still not resulted in enough local monetary support to show the city that this venture has a chance of succeeding long-term. How can City Council members realistically put money into something that has all the indications of failure unless a whole lot more people come on board? You are thinking with your passion for the sport and completely leaving out the common sense issues.
If the hill is to eventually be a thriving destination it is going to need a long-term plan other than just aggressive advertising relying on local support. The hill will need over-night accomodations (approach the college about post and beam cottages and/or a hostel), the lodge will need to be brought up-to-date in the same style as future outbuildings, summer activities will need to be promoted so the venue is not vacant for a good part of the year. In other words, this plan needs to stop being a local club and will need to go big to work! Can you imagine what groups would pay to have gatherings at such a fantastic destination - even in the summer?!
Sadly, I have seen none of this sort of vision on the part of the MMC team. It appears that their goal is to only ski (or bike) - with little vision given to catering to an international crowd which is what it will take to stay viable.
With a more expansive business plan maybe the group could attract bigger investors - unless they really do want to keep the hill to themselves as indicated by their shutting out of Mr. Schectman. If that is the case then they are on their own.
Childish Behaviour Continues
Comment by Lori on 24th August 2011
Much like we saw when Friends of Shames resorted to bullying and name calling on the internet, Bruce Martindale's actions were juvenile at best.
Why was he so surprised there was a perceived conflict of interest? Or maybe the better question is, why did he choose the morning of the vote to go on CBC?
Vote with a share
Comment by R1chard Jenn1ss on 23rd August 2011
Politics is damned if you do and damned if you don't.
The MMC has in it's plan to make the hill affordable. You see, going after the City purse - That means our taxes would subsidize the lift tickets.
I would much rather see someone fund raise to earn their pass. Mow my lawn if you have to. Collect bottles. Heck remove the asbestos from COOP. (I've removed asbestos, its not that dangerous given the appropriate tools.)
Seeing that the hill is to keep professionals here, then there will be no problem changing the mission from affordable to "financially sustainable"
I think $750 is more appropriate seasons pass.
Oh and please issue fines for smoking pot on the chair lift... talk about a way to encourage professionals...
Vote by buying a share.
Charge for parking.
You want affordable?
A small walk from the parking lot below maybe saved you $200 - $1500 a year.
Bring those calendars back - it's a good reminder when to buy gear or when to buy passes - heck even let kids sell the calendars to pay for their own passes!
Stop hiding shames merchandise behind the counter (better marketing starts now) - sell the swag everywhere. I mean really, the marketing before "I like big dumps" Is that professional? I don't know... you tell me.
There are countless ways to make money and countless ways to make it affordable.