BC’s co-op and credit union sector is still reeling from the news that Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), a beloved retail brand in this country for nearly 50 years, is intended to be sold to a foreign private investor, U.S.-based Kingswood Capital Management.
As has been widely reported, the members of MEC were not consulted and learned about the transaction through the media. Many Canadians had a visceral reaction to the news, as showcased in the media, as well as through initiatives such as Save MEC. This reflects a deep-rooted desire to not only safeguard MEC but protect the rights of members and the principles and values of co-operatives.
BCCA, the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA) and Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) are collaborating to protect the integrity of the co-op model and to put member rights at the forefront of the transaction. On our behalf, our shared legal counsel is requesting intervenor status as a matter of public interest on the basis that the BC Co-operative Association Act and the Rules of MEC were not respected in the process to date. If we are successful, a stay of proceedings on the sale of MEC may be granted.
Regardless of the outcome, we know there will be many lessons to learn from this unfortunate situation. As the association representing the 700+ co-operatives and credit unions across BC, we hope the events surrounding MEC will help to galvanize the sector and give us all pause to reflect on the principles and values that define us as co-operators.
We know the co-op model works – at scale and through difficult times – and we have many examples to point to.
We also know that the current economic environment is exceedingly difficult and challenging for many.
For these reasons and more, it is important that we tap into the wisdom and passion of the collective to bring forward ideas and insights that can help make our co-operatives and credit unions stronger and resilient.
We will keep you updated as this situation evolves.
Chair, BCCA Board of Directors