MEC and MSC appear to be abandoning members for financial reasons: Writer

 In Letters, Opinion

In the news recently was the sad demise of Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), a once unique enterprise that arose initially to meet the needs of its members and held for a time its members’ love of nature and adventure at its core.
Following the failure of expansionist retail endeavours by MEC’s ambitious board of directors, MEC has now been purchased by an American corporation that will likely lead the company further away from the values of its loyal members.
Mansfield Ski Club (MSC), too, from my outsider’s point of view, seems to have similarly lost its way. When speaking with individual members, I hear of a valuing of the landscape that bears the ski property, the rustic nature of its facilities, and an appreciation of the natural scenery around it in Mulmur. I am told that it is because it is not glitzy like Blue Mountain or other clubs that it keeps skiing and its particular community at its core.
In contrast, MSC, or at least the board of directors, in the aim of combatting its debt and attracting new members, is about to damage the very natural environment it originally embraced. In its new project of building a complex of four-storey stacked townhouses, 93 units in total, in its current parking lot, it expects to draw not only the over 11 million litres of water from the nearby Pine River per day for its snow-making, but additionally, once fully built, this new endeavor will create new wells that will ultimately draw an additional 378,000 L/day to supply its clubhouse and residences. It will be quite a burden on the poor Pine River.
For those who live in the vicinity, the Pine River is a place to swim, to fish, to hike along, or just soothing to watch. Individual members emphasize to me, that they too appreciate the natural gems like this river that form Mulmur’s bounty of forests, hills, and wetlands. The Pine River feeds much of Mulmur’s rural countryside, especially in the view from those ski hills, and much like MSC’s ski hills, it draws people from other regions to fish and hike in an unpolished recreation environment.
However, MSC with this development, will dump over 116000 L per day of treated effluent back into the river system. Despite claims of “99 per cent effective treatment”, one per cent of that large quantity of septic waste is still incompatible with the image of our pristine waters. Incompatible too, are the four-storey tall stacked townhouses that are more fitting in city suburbs than rural Mulmur. Its precedence may even change Mulmur.
Like MEC members, some ski club members may feel disillusioned that their values are unheeded and their voices ignored as boards justify the need to expand, the need to compete, the need to sacrifice some ideals in order not to force current members to commit to higher prices/membership fees.
Business goals seem to usurp values. In the case of MEC, a business arose to meet the needs of its members, only to abandon them for financial reasons. Mansfield Ski Club may end up destroying itself similarly. Those who enjoyed skiing in a rustic and beautiful countryside will have, through its development, brought damage to its neighbouring river and marred the idyllic surroundings, for all of us, not just its members, all in the business of making a buck.
Lisa Swinton,

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