Mountain World goes bankrupt President blames WRA for predicament By Paul Andrew An 18-month experiment tagged as a prototype for other mountain resorts, Mountain World Entertainment in Whistler has become a $2 million loss for the now bankrupt company and for president Glenn Fawcett. In addition to leaving a pile of unpaid, deferred rent bills to the Whistler Resort Association, which leased the 19,000 square foot space to the company, at least 20 local businesses are out some $75,000. At a June 3 meeting among creditors, trustees and Mountain World’s senior management, Fawcett said his proposal to prevent bankruptcy was accepted by "100 per cent" of the creditors, with the exception of the WRA, which says it has not received any rent on the space below the conference centre since Mountain World moved into the location in November, 1997. Fawcett admits owing the resort association at least $99,000, but he says now the WRA will get nothing unless a miracle happens very soon. On Friday, June 4, Fawcett was upbeat but frustrated. "I’m issuing 40 lay off notices right now, so I’m not very happy," he said. "Our next move is to try and save Mountain World. In 10 days all the secured creditors can swoop in and take out all the games, kitchen equipment... all the people were pleased with our proposal except the WRA. Now the trustees have moved into the building and they will oversee the site for the next 90 days." Fawcett said at least 20 Whistler business were owed some $75,000 and those businesses will also suffer from the receivership process. "But the WRA said no to the proposal so they stuck it to their own members," Fawcett added. Suzanne Denbak, who became president of the WRA a year ago, said Mountain World was given many opportunities to comply with the rental agreement, which it never met. May 1 was to be the first date Mountain World actually paid its monthly rent. "The agreement was in place before I arrived," Denbak said Monday. "The WRA and (its) board of directors had made several attempts to accommodate Mountain World. But as the landlord, we’re considered a preferred creditor. Being owed more than $100,000, we gave his proposal serious consideration. But we did not believe it was in the best interest of the WRA or its members." A June 7 press release summarizing the WRA’s position stated: "Over the past year the WRA and its board of directors made numerous attempts to accommodate Mountain World... In each instance, Mountain World failed to meet its obligations." Denbak said the WRA is not in the business of subsidizing private enterprise. "We made every effort to assist Mountain World," Denbak explained. "We had made many offers and given numerous time concessions." The press release goes on to say the WRA had no choice but to decline future negotiations with the trustee of Mountain World, Deloitte and Touche, in Vancouver. In a press release late Wednesday afternoon, on June 9, Fawcett responded to an interview Denbak gave on Mountain FM Radio. Statements from Fawcett dispute the "numerous opportunities" the WRA says it provided for Mountain World. "We were struggling and everyone knew that," Fawcett said in the release. "However, the company has a very different recollection of how the proposals were made and how they were rejected than that which has been stated in the media by the WRA president Suzanne Denbak. We feel the WRA is grossly overstating the efforts it went to in trying to work out an arrangement for re-negotiation... From our experience we encountered numerous times where the proposals and calls made to the WRA by telephone, e-mail, or fax were never returned to us. "Moreover, during the 45-day period of creditor protection, the WRA conducted virtually all of their communication to us via (its) attorney. Not one of the 76 other creditors had to use a lawyer to talk to us. Is this how the WRA defines trying to work with us on a proposal?" Fawcett goes on to say in the press release that the proposal he had prepared would pay back in full, over a number of months, all moneys owed to the WRA. "I’m really frustrated because we came so close to making a deal," Fawcett said, the day after the creditors’ meeting. "The liquor license would be the first of its kind. Up to the 11th hour, a legitimate group of investors was interested in buying Mountain World. The $2 million tax loss could be applied toward future profits. And that’s a good thing."