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COMMENTARY · 11th December 2009
Merv Ritchie
EDITED FRIDAY DECEMBER 11 AM - links added to previous stories and comment by Roger Brooks modified by himself.

It is difficult to understand how one can remain calm, cool and collected when confronted by the grade school behaviour of adult children who hold positions of prestige and authority. It is equally sad to discover the schoolyard bullying, social ostracizing and exclusionary behaviour of these individuals has at its foundation, bigotry and intolerance.

This seems to be the case of the effort of one group attempting to control the direction of the future of Shames Mountain. As one local radio personality described it, “It’s like a parent sending a child into foster care but demanding to select which foster home their child goes to.” It is a good analogy except that in this case these are just friends of the parent who like to hang out with the kid and are attempting to provide instructions and limitations to the foster home.

Various media reports have covered the divide between locals and the couple from Argentina who arrived at Terrace in October promoting a Co-op concept for reviving and ensuring a stable future for the Shames Mountain Ski area.

VENTURE INTO NEW START

FUTURE LOOKS GREAT

INTERPROVINCIAL ATTENTION

HUGE STRIDE FORWARD

CLARITY REQUIRED BETWEEN FRIENDS


Jamie Schectman arrived after traveling from his home in Patagonia, Argentina to look at the mountain and meet the local community. One friend, Gary Maltin, had referred to him as an Angel for coming up with the concept. A group was formed to study his ideas and compare them to other concepts and they called it ‘Friends of Shames’. After Schectman left to return to his home in Argentina the ‘Friends’ became out spoken enemies attacking and critiquing Schectmans’ character and integrity on many public and international forums. These vicious personal attacks were (and ‘are’ as they continue today) accompanied with all types of foul language and epitaphs that reflect Terrace to the world as an intolerant community.

It began with an underhanded attack by GaryfromTerrace on a web forum called TGR which we have posted at the end of this article: (When reading the comments below; the Friends of Shames are referred to as FoS, Shames Mountain Co-op as SMC and ELA or ‘Enlosandes’ is Jamie Schectman). Also please be aware the writings contain direct foul language so if you get offended easily, it would be wise to not read it.

This Skiing website forum has international visitors and some who have joined in the conversation are from, Vail Colorado, Banff, Tahoe, New Hampshire, a travel writer from Colorado writing from Tanzania, Africa, a gentleman from Crans, Switzerland and many more write anonymously.

Some wrote comments about the Schectmans and their integrity;

Met ELA down in Bariloche few years back where he threw a keg party (La Cruz!) at his pad and opened his doors to all mags who happened to be in the area (no cover!). Criscam and I both attended with our sig. others and was good times had by all. He was a great host. Such in fact that when I went back down there this past August (I never got around to throwing up the TR ...mabye soon) I bunked up in his casita and had an epic time. Price was right and when I stayed a couple more nights to catch a storm, he charged me even less for the extra nights no questions asked. I left happy with the hook up so this charge of him milking US guests based on currency fluctuations seems unwarranted from my experience. On the contrary, ELA is a stand up mag. Eff what ya' heard.

The person from New Hampshire wrote;

I stayed at ELA's property last summer. More than accomodating with local knowledge. Rates were certainly reasonable. I may not buy into the co-op as my wife would f'n kill me, but I will certainly stay at ELA's property again in Bariloche.

Why the hate? Go skiing it will make you guys feel better, I promise.


Nathan Ward, the Travel writer from Colorado wrote;

Hi Terrace Folks,

I'm a skier and journalist from Colorado, but currently working in Africa. I've been following these ideas around Shames, partly because I'm a skier and also because I'm from a small town similar to Terrace.

But, of more interest to all of you, I've met the "Angel from Argentina" and will give you my impressions. I met Jamie and Shanie Shectman in Argentina last year when I was looking for a small cabin in northern Patagonia. Jamie took a full week of his time to show me the whole area, explain how things worked locally, show me a number of options, etc. At all times, I found him to be professional, up front and truthful. We left as friends at the end of the week.

I got the impression that he was an intelligent and driven guy with a lot of ideas and not afraid to pursue them. Overall, a good guy to be working with.

I didn't ski with either of them since it was summer, but their house is full of photos of their ski adventures. I would describe them both as passionate skiers.

They are both a little bit "California" but since they're from California originally, they can't help it. Still, if they moved up to Terrace, they would be a good part of your community. They are definitely Americans with a broader global view.

That is my 2 cents. I hope you can all work it out to keep Shames open. The photos of the terrain look great.

Good luck!
Nathan Ward


In a response to all the hate thrown at those who asked questions about the FoS ligitamacy, Steven Hatcher from Crans Switzerland wrote;

As a complete outsider and someone that tries not to infer too much into what he reads I have to say I don't see this "huge axe" that Skeenalady supposedly has to grind. Her questions, frankly, seem pretty fair. Two or three questions that ask for accountability: a desperate ski resort puts itself up for sale; an outsider strikes up a conversation about the possibility of a co-op; a bunch of locals feel uneasy about this so counter with their own plan. Where is the axe?

It seems like she (he?) is really only asking why some locals are only now taking an initiative to do something about their ski hill that has been failing for 20-plus years. It does seem suspiciously coincidental, reactionary, and perhaps a bit counter-productive. After re-reading what she/he has written three times, am I missing something?

Using "ignorant douchebag," "fucking stupid," "ungrateful b&#ch", etc, as a way to shut down a conversation says a helluva lot more about the writer than it does about the subject. Hi-fives all around, boys, idiots rule!


However, even after all this international exposure a small group of Terrace ‘Friends’ continued to attack. Our own website became a target by Sam Harling of the Terrace Economic Development Authority along with another anonymous poster. This anonymous individual took great offense at the local tourism organization, Kermodei, being questioned as to their involvement. He then took swipes at the Terrace Daily and their coverage of the Tourism schism which happened long before Luke Holden became involved. Holden personally visited a Hotel to challenge a front desk employee for his comments regarding this issue. GaryfromTerrace even signed in using this writers name (Merv Ritchie) to post comments to bring more discredit and embarrassment to the community.

We were personally asked (by a 'Friend of Shames' member) to remove a link, on the Terrace Daily front page, to the Schectmans Shames Mountain Coop Website and we also agreed to not write articles regarding this issue until the FoS had determined the direction they would be taking. Later, after discovering the TGR Forum we wrote to all the FoS members by email;

Hello All,

As most all of you know I operate a web based News and information service, at www.TerraceDaily.ca and www.KitimatDaily.ca

Those that have followed the pages will have discovered we recently discontinued allowing anonymous comments. This was specifically due to the brewing controversy between the SMC and FoS. We have received many extremely negative and slanderous comments which are reflecting poorly on our fine community.

We chose to stop a worsening situation for the benefit of all of us.

I have visited other forums discovering more acrimonious postings by locals including members of the FoS committee.

Terrace recently won the Hockeyville contest and garnered national attention demonstrating our community spirit. It was a warm and welcoming change to the previous acrimony fostered by the TTS fiasco that, which we reported on but did not create.

Today we are receiving International attention due to the work of Jamie Schectman and his wife. The most recent comment was from a travel writer based in Colorado, currently in Africa. We invited him to Terrace this morning during an email exchange. His website is www.NathanWard.com check it out.

The Edmonton Vue article was just a primer it appears.

Some of the comments we have not posted include the claim the FoS committee did not want to be public about the funds raised during the Townhall meeting though one of the FoS members stated it was 6 grand (if I recall correctly) on a web forum. Another is that the FoS wanted controlling board membership positions. It was compared to the TTS change to Kermodei where the Hoteliers position was reduced such that the City took over the control. On the face of it, with these claims , it would appear that Schectmans stating the FoS does not share the SMC vision of open and equal members has some validity.

Terrace won back some ground in appearing open and inclusive over the past year and garnered a bright new sense spirit of community.

However our inbox in rife with anger over this new brewing storm.

If you wish to understand how far and wide the effects and the attention of the FoS interference in the efforts of Schectman attempting to bring the international community to our region, check out our statistics.

https://terracedaily.ca/webstat/

Our hits this month have already exceeded October’s just 2/3th’s of the way through the month. Our daily visitors and page views are all significantly up.

We are receiving emails and comments from around the world.

I have maintained a very neutral position on this issue as the world is now watching us closely. I respect the hard work and desire to do what is best. It would be wise at this juncture to re-evaluate what the long term goal is.

I do not know all of you; some I have had personal interactions with. What I believe is that everyone has a job and this is taking away from your free time and likely from your work time too. Covering these issues is my full time job.

I have discovered while investigating this matter there is also an underlying bigotry issue. If the international community gets a whiff of the intolerance and petty small minded politics, reporters and writers (those currently watching) will have a field day.

The legal community still uses Terrace as precedence case for the anti gay rights movements and actions. Terrace was taken to Court for not making a proclamation on behalf of the gay community and this is the reason Terrace still refuses to proclaim anything, they would need to recognize gay’s. Google it, it is equally embarrassing.

This is not a small and trivial matter that simply talking poorly about Merv is going to resolve.

I will do my job and if this means ripping it up and exposing the underlying foundation to Schectman’s roadblock, so be it. I will tell you this however; it is not what I want to do.

I am sure there is an easy way out. Meet and communicate. Realize that you are all just too busy to prepare more documents and business plans. Recognize that supporting someone that does have the time, would be best and likely would do the best job. Ultimately it is up to the owners of the hill of course and isn’t that really the stop gap measure you need? Why put yourselves in between. I am sure some of you have great relationships with the owners. All you need to do is step aside and wait for the offer, if one transpires, to discuss your concerns.

Complete and full friendly support for Schectman is the only option to correct this storm. For the public image. Not because Merv said it either but because someone painted this issue into a corner. Remember you still have the owners who will "Deal or No Deal"

I am 51. I have seen these events before. The end result could be positive or negative. My writing will not be the causation either way. I will simply tell the story.

I await the opportunity to write a positive one.
Thank you for your time.
Merv Ritchie


Not one of the FoS replied and further simply determined to exclude the Terrace Daily from further communications.

On December 4, one day after the Schectmans posted on their website the best option to pursue was a ‘for profit’ Co-op model, the FoS produced a news release stating they had decided the ‘non-profit’ Co-op would be best. This news release was delivered to most other media organizations in Terrace and was posted on web forums however the ‘Friends’ did not send it to the Terrace Daily. We had spoken with the media/communications person for the FoS and provided all our contact details. It would appear as if exclusionary tactics are at the foundation of this core group of ‘Friends’.

TEDA invited Roger Brooks to Terrace for the Skeena Summit in late October.

SKEENA SUMMIT REPORT ON ROGER BROOKS

When asked for his opinion of the ‘non profit co-op’ he wrote,

“I have never seen a non-profit ski-area (or community-owned one) ever break even, and most don't last more than a few years. There's no question that private ownership - where the ownership MUST make a profit in order to repay loans and to obtain financing partners - is the best model. Because of their commitments to making a profit, they have a whole lot of incentive, and typically, expertise in doing just that. This should ALWAYS be the model if you are looking for private investment, professional management, and a strong marketing program that reaches outside of your immediate market area.

If the community wants a locally owned and operated ski area for its residents (like a community center, ball fields, or other public venue) I have no problem with that at all. BUT - if you are looking for tourism, new investment, or want to use the ski area as part of their economic development efforts, then you need to look at private development, investment, and ownership - even a long term lease as has been done in Colorado and other places all over the planet.”


Even the British Columbia Co-op Association seems to feel the ‘For Profit’ model is the best option. Richard Marcuse wrote;

I am the Director of Co-operative Development for the BC Co-operative Association, the provincial umbrella organization for all co-ops in our province.

We want to see co-ops flourish, as they have many extraordinary virtues, democratic control being one of the them.

BCCA staff were approached some time ago by Jamie Schectman for advice regarding establishing a skiers’ co-op that would operate on Shames Mountain. Since that time, we have provided advice to him, and his wife, Shainie, and, more recently, have been in conversation with, and offered advice to, others in Terrace, including members of Friends of Shames.

Undoubtedly, many people have thought long and hard about the options that have been considered.

After learning that the F of S group has selected the Community Service Co-op model as the preferred option, we wondered if the group had fully considered the advantages of a for-profit structure for the co-op.

If the F of S concern – or the concern of Terrace residents in general – is to ensure that the ski hill remains affordable, and a sustainable community asset for the long-term, there is no reason why this could not be the case with a for-profit co-op. Any financial surplus can be directed to wherever the members want to place it, just as in a non-profit. The ski hill can become a type of social enterprise, benefiting the members – and others – as the members decide. The added advantage, however, is the much stronger capacity of the co-op to raise capital. It also allows the ski hill to operate as a stand-alone enterprise without having to rely on either government or charitable funds.

BCCA’s position is that it is prudent to carry out a feasibility study before locking into any one co-op model, whether for-profit or not-for-profit.

Given the great potential of the concept, we would be pleased, as well, if the various positions could be reconciled so that the community, broadly-defined, could move forward with a high degree of unity.

I would encourage you and your readers to visit the website of BCCA (www.bcca.coop) or the website of our sister organization in Ontario, On Co-op (www.ontario.coop); there is a lot of good information on co-ops there, and there’s a lot to learn, as co-ops are quite different, in significant ways, from conventional businesses.


So to get back to Gary from Terrace. It would appear from a few simple email communications we have found direct confirmation that pursuing a ‘For-Profit’ Co-op might be a preferable option. At the very least, according to the BC Co-op Association, a feasibility study should be done prior to making a firm commitment. They have offered to come to Terrace to provide insight and answers for those interested, all they need is an invite. The question is why have these ‘Friends’ taken such a hostile position and refused to be accommodating and inclusive. They state they wish to perform ‘Due diligence’ but obviously haven’t listened or comprehended if they contacted professionals connected with these types of efforts. Maybe insight can be gleaned by the personality of one who claims to speak for the FoS. Introducing an exchange with GaryFromTerrace.


“OK maggots, rip me a new ass - whatever, but I have to post. I know I was an absolute supporter of the Shames Mtn Coop (and the subsequent thread THAT WAS DELETED) however there's been some developments that I would like to share. We (The Friends of Shames, the locals) organised a town hall meeting that was very well attended, including the committee member from beneath the equator. We made about 6 grand at the after-town-hall-party, to help us in our efforts.” wrote Gary from Terrace, continuing, “Last week, a few days after returning from the Vancouver trip I was informed that the gentleman from patagonia no longer wanted to be on the Friends of Shames steering committee. Nope, he didn't want to be a Friend of Shames any more. So he resigned, left us, vamoosed. And we wish him well.” And then added, ”The locally driven Friends of Shames are still investigating which model THEY feel is best for the long term sustainability of our little ski hill.”



Schectman responded with the following

“I will make this super quick as I don't want to get in any pissing matches and prefer to stay focused on the positive.

The FOS committee was formed as a result of the SMC movement. (My wife and I have always represented SMC and have been thinking about a co-op style ownership for many years.) I was never a member of a committee that was formed as a result of the SMC movement. I did agree to briefly change the header on the website to FOS. I quickly realized that was a mistake and changed back when I realized that the two entities aren't even remotely on the same page.

The much bigger issue here is that FOS does not agree with the mission statement, core values and code of ethics as depicted on the SMC website.

SMC needs and wants and is currently working with members of the local community. However, it is imperative that they share the same vision as SMC. Just like choosing a successful business team, all players need to be on the same page.

To be clear, if SMC does not have the local support, then this will never fly and we will ride off into the sunset.

For the record, as a result of my numerous interactions with many in the local community the last month, the same common theme has come up. FOS is a very loud but small minority of the community.

I have two questions that have not been answered yet.

If the ski area has been for sale for many years, and a global ski co-op movement begins, why would you form a committee to figure out what the best option is for Shames? Seems like there was plenty of time to evaluate the options?

If you live in a town with a sluggish economy, why wouldn't you want foreigners to buy a share and come visit?

We encourage all those, both locally and globally, who agree with the mission statement, core values and code of ethics to get involved if they like. SMC is all about collaboration, so long as the people are in agreement about the beliefs.”


Which had Gary reply with;

Quote:
I was never a member of a committee that was formed as a result of the SMC movement. I did agree to briefly change the header on the website to FOS. I quickly realized that was a mistake and changed back when I realized that the two entities aren't even remotely on the same page.

Oh, so the fact that your name was written in the Friends of Shames weekly meeting minutes as a participant every week (a copy of previous meetings sent every member prior to said weekly meetings) didn't perhaps "red flag" the fact that we thought you were a member?

So the fact that you submitted your cv to the FoS committee for inclusion into the town hall meeting pamphlet submitted to every person entering the meeting, the fact that you were introduced to the audience as a FoS member, the fact that you sat up at the front in a row with the other committee members - these facts didn't somehow draw your attention to the fact that you were a member. Or at least perceived as one by the local community.

Further, you suggest that you "briefly" changed the header on your website & "quickly" realized it was a mistake.... uh how do you define quick and brief. In geological terms yes, it was fast. But I would suggest it was at least a month, but who's counting.
Quote:
SMC needs and wants and is currently working with members of the local community. However, it is imparitive that they share the same vision as SMC. Just like choosing a successful business team, all players need to be on the same page.

Hey, just like North Korea. Sweet, every one on the same page. Dissention and discussion when you're talking about coming up with $3M should be kept to a minumum. Perhaps due diligence in looking at other models, isn't team playing. Yeah, ok.

Quote:
To be clear, if SMC does not have the local support, then this will never fly and we will ride off into the sunset.
You called that one
Quote:
For the record, as a result of my numerous interactions with many in the local community the last month, the same common theme has come up. FOS is a very loud but small minority of the community.

Well I, sir, would respectfully disagree with your assessment. And I fucking live here. I would further suggest sir, that once it is well known here that you have resigned from the FoS steering committee, and that there is a clear distinction between FoS and SMC that you may wish to re-assess your conclusion. By the way your were up here for a very "brief" amount of time (4 days as I recall).
Quote:
I have two questions that have not been answered yet.
If the ski area has been for sale for many years, and a global ski co-op movement begins, why would you form a committee to figure out what the best option is for Shames? Seems like there was plenty of time to evaluate the options?

Why would you join a committee friend? Oh wait, you didn't join, you pretended. I'll tell you why you form a steering committee - to research various models and all funding sources with due diligence. So that you don't spend 500 fucking hours on a project unpaid, to see it fail because you forgot something. So you get other ideas from people that have completely different skill sets from yours (like an MBA or 30 years of construction inspection experience, or run a marketing department for an airline, or head a local economic development association), and you have discussions and differences of opinion. And if you're really lucky, at the end of it you have a plan that is well researched that perhaps succeeds.
Quote:
If you live in a town with a sluggish economy, why wouldn't you want foreigners to buy a share and come visit?
Oh we want people to come all right, believe me we want them. Do we want them to buy a share - in what? Do we have a business plan? Do you? I haven't seen it. Once we have done OUR due diligence will have a plan.
Quote:
We encourage all those, both locally and globally, who agree with the mission statement, core values and code of ethics to get involved if they like. SMC is all about collaboration, so long as the people are in agreement about the beliefs.
Yes, no disagreement is allowed. We will all happily go along.
Quote:
Here is a link to the Terrace Daily, which discusses the FOS and SMC situation.

Below is a posting on the SMC website from the owner of this newspaper. Now I will NOT get into credibility of news sources here, please enjoy:

"Yeah, that's a great idea. Good thinking. Bring the Northwest culture to the hill for the world community to savour. It'd be great to sit in a large log structure with a large fire after a day on the slopes. This feels like a winner, drumming and dancing after a day of skiing and boarding. I wish I was twenty again."
Quote:
PS If I was a FOS member, why did I pay for my trip to Vancouver out of my own pocket?

You know it's funny. We actually did have a discussion about that AFTER you resigned from the committee. I suggested that we should pay half of your LAX - YVR ticket. Other members disagreed. So we voted on it, because that's what you do in a committee. The vote was 3 for, 2 against, and 3 abstained. So we were going to pay, however that became a bit of a mute point after you left, so there you go.

Now having spent WAY TO MUCH FUCKING TIME ON THIS, and having all of my previous posts regarding this on the last thread DELETED. I am going to go skiing. Because that is what is important.

"Clusterfuck" as someone mentioned earlier? Yup, it's a fucking pity.





A comment from the gentleman from Switzerland concludes this writing;

Hi LeeLau. You're right, my opinion probably means nothing to you. I wasn't exactly expressing an opinion of you anyway. But if my opinion means nothing then your opinion means little more. Yet, you keep posting as well. I wonder why?

Thanks wetcoaster, L7, and ed nauseum for putting some historical/background information in here. Maybe my voice isn't as meaningless as LeeLau would like to think.

No matter whose side of the fence you're on, both SMC and FoS are going to need plenty of outsiders like me to support their cause. Isn't that part of the reason why this issue is up for debate on this forum - a forum, by the way, that sees a significantly larger audience than a Terrace town hall meeting. Ugliness only generates more ugliness and that's certainly no way to convince outsiders to invest time and money. So far, I've invested a small chunk of time in an effort to level a disruptive playing field. In and of itself, that should say something to someone.

According to LeeLau, I am nobody. I'll take that, I suppose. I'm expressing concerns about this issue and perhaps they are meaningless. I wonder, however, how many somebodies are reading this thread who have yet to express their concern and who might have an interest in the success of a place like this. Is fear, hostility, resentment, and paranoia the kind of picture you want to paint of your gilded community up there? What kind of potential customers and/or investors would you like to attract? If you can't help but to call your own neighbors "fucking idiot douchebags" and the like, I wonder how you'll treat all the outsiders that Shames and Terrace needs?

Tell me why I should care about this place. So far, I'm not convinced. Keep telling me that I have nothing to add and "almost certainly have no impact" and you might very well be right.


We have replaced the link to the Shames Mountain Co-op on the front page of this website. They require two local directors to assist in keeping this dream for Shames Mountain alive. If the community of Terrace wishes to prove to the world, and international investors, they are open and inclusive, the best bet is to join these forums, post comments, and speak up. Talk to those who one might know personally within the FoS organization. Intolerance should not be at the foundation of Terrace.

And would someone please invite Richard Marcuse to come to Terrace to speak to those truly interested and inclusive?

rickmarc,,,shaw.ca
Director of Co-op Development
B.C. Co-operative Association
Voice: 604-662-3906

B.C. Co-operative Association – Building the Co-operative Economy

Check out their website for member profiles and other information: www.bcca.coop