Article by Natalia Balcerzak, copied from the Terrace Standard, Jan 11, 2020
It’s not just the big snowfall that Shames Mountain is celebrating this season.
Rio Tinto has donated $30,000 to help Shames Mountain proceed with their replacement of the beginner’s rope tow with a new, covered conveyor lift making it easier for less experienced skiers to ride up to the runs.
“As a non-profit ski co-operative, our mission is to make winter sports accessible to as many people as possible,” says Shames Mountain general manager Christian Theberge in a press release.
“We are very excited to improve our mountain experience for new users of all ages and continue to build on the family focus at Shames Mountain. I want to thank Rio Tinto for helping us get this project off the ground.”
The proposed upgrade will improve the safety of the co-op’s beginner slope and make it more accessible to new skiers and snowboarders, increasing the reach of the mountain’s existing youth education programs.
My Mountain Co-op vice-chair Dave Gordon says the current rope tow has proven to be problematic for their growing ski hill as not every beginner is comfortable using it. It can be a big learning curb for some, who opt to walk up the bunny hill instead. Adult beginners also have difficulty balancing with the height of the tow.
He adds it’s also essential to have the conveyor lift covered as they often get heavy snowfalls on the mountain that can wear down the machinery if it was exposed, along with reducing snow removal maintenance.
The entire cost of the new conveyor lift, including installation, is estimated at $690,000. Currently, Gordon says they have 10 per cent of that amount from fundraising and donations to fund the project. He hopes that they can secure a few more grants and continue to raise money so they can start construction this summer.
Gordon says they have not yet selected a conveyor lift model or company to work with as they’re still reviewing their options.
The project also includes the development of snow tubing lanes to offer more recreational activities for the community. The lift on the bunny hill will continue to be free of charge.
“Shames Mountain is an important component of the well-being of our Northwest BC communities,” says the general manager of Rio Tinto BC Works Affonso Bizon in a press release.
“We are proud to support projects that provide winter recreation activities for our youth and our employees and teach them to appreciate and experience the great natural environment our region has to offer.”
According to the release, Rio Tinto has contributed more than $250,000 since 2012 to help Shames Mountain operate and develop its programming.