Our producer Sandy Goldman read about My Mountain Coop in the Air Canada magazine when flying in 2016 and so got the idea to pursue this story. Sandy got in touch with Sarah Zimmerman from the board of My Mountain Co-op. Sarah produced the episode by recording interviews locally and Robin Puga produced the show from Vancouver with Sarah as the remote host.
My Mountain Co-op
From their website – http://www.mymountaincoop.ca
- My Mountain Co-op (MMC) is Canada’s first non-profit community service ski co-op.
- MMC is a non-profit community service co-operative with the purpose of providing recreational opportunities via the Shames Mountain Ski area.
- MMC strives to enhance the health and quality of life of the communities in the region that, in turn, contribute to the long-term viability and sustainability of the co-op.
Membership is our strength
Through co-operative practices, working together with our communities and partnering with like-minded organizations, we make our vision a reality.
Sarah introduces My Mountain Co-op. What makes it unique. Also, it’s snowing like crazy today.
The first interview is with Sam Harling. Sam is currently a director on the My Mountain Co-op Board but also got his first job at Shames when he moved here more than a decade ago. He was also involved with the original group that began looking into the viability of the co-op model at a time when the Former Shames Mountain Corporation was going to have to shut the hill down if a new owner could not be found.
Also, we had a directors recognition evening last weekend so that might be something to keep in the backs of our minds if we run out of time.
Sam Harling talks about:
- Friends of Shames
- First experience Shames – moved here, first job at shames
- History of the hill
- About research into various co-op models
- Help of former shareholders helping with transition to co-op model
- Discussion of the challenges faced in developing a sustainable operation as a co-op and now, seven years later being stronger, financially in the black and having a solid membership base
- People still want to become members
- Why Sam loves Shames, bringing his daughters up to the hill to snowboard as a family and interact with the co-op community
The next interview with Meredith Skimson – founding director of Shames. Meredith talks about the early days of getting the co-op off the ground. The work that went into it and the satisfaction of seeing it thrive. She also talks about raising her family at the hill – a common narrative for many members.
Christian Theberge, the General Manager for the last seven years. He is critical to the success of the hill. Oversees our 60 staff. Reports to the board. Christian speaks to what is unique about the co-op model from an operational perspective.
Sarah discusses importance of the ski hill to regional economy, seasonal employment, and giving young shredders a place to enter the workforce. Sarah introduced her son Ethan, who is 13 and working at the ski hill as a cafeteria busser for his second season. This is his first real job. Ethan also talks about the hill being an extension of his family and the social aspects of Shames.
Other Interesting Facts
One of longtime lift operators whose house burned to the ground over the Christmas season. A tragic situation turned into an amazing story of community and the power of membership when the ski community rallied to fin him temporary shelter, new clothes, a brand new dog house for his pets and a fundraising campaign that has raised almost $10,000 in less than a month.
- Corporate sponsorship of the hill
- General spirit of volunteerism
- Recent release of the 8-minute film My Mountain, featuring people from Shames, some incredible shots of the region, the hill, skiing and snowbaording and the Shames Community – Check it out: https://vimeo.com/246170895
- Major projects on the go this year: replacing the bull wheel – a key component of the chairlift. Will cost $110,000, seeking corporate donations.