Profile: Brian Stamp

A simple request for legal advice has turned into a 25-year love affair between lawyer Brian Stamp and Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

In 1978, when Mount Washington was a gem in Alex Linton and Henry Nori’s imaginations, they contacted Stamp, a Campbell River lawyer, to help them with the legalities of opening a ski resort and accompanying alpine village.

Stamp had moved his family to Campbell River in December 1971 from Victoria, where he had been practicing law. He accepted Linton and Nori’s challenge. “It was the summer before everything got going: there were lifts to put up, runs to cut, sewage treatment to put in, the Alpine Lodge to build and a subdivision (what is now called the Alpine Village),” he said. In other words, there was a certain amount of advice the pair needed, especially how to approach the subdivision.

That subdivision was very important, Stamp says now, because there was no public road yet: just easements or rights-of-way on private or Crown Land.

“It took a lot of negotiating and encouragement on our part with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways to get the subdivision put through.”

Mount Washington opened in December 1979. The same day, a sale was held at the Coast Westerly Hotel in Courtenay for the subdivision; it was sold out in three or four hours.

“We had pre-done purchase agreements and people had already indicated what lot they wanted,” Stamp said. The sale could have been completed earlier if they had had more people to help fill out the paperwork.

In 1989 Stamp was among a group of shareholders that bought the budding Resort from Linton and Nori; he has been a Director ever since.

An avid skier, Stamp has spent years on the slopes in between law duties. His eldest son got involved in ski racing a few years after the hill opened, and that led Stamp to a 10-year association with the Mount Washington Ski Club. He was president for two or three years, served as a director on the club and also coached Nancy Greene skiers.

“I became very passionate about downhill skiing,” he said. “All those years, almost from the time the mountain opened, until about four years ago, I was quite active in alpine skiing.”

Then he switched to nordic skiing, which has quickly become his passion.

Despite a very busy life, Stamp says retirement is not in the plan yet. “I’ve still got a very busy law practice. I’m very fortunate.” Stamp has been able to organize his life to a point where he has been a full-time lawyer without having to go crazy – leaving time to do other things, like play the piano, garden, sit on the Vancouver Island Health Authority board and run a “little” organization called RiverCorp.

Stamp is Chairman of the Board of RiverCorp, which began operations in April 2001. Essentially, RiverCorp is Campbell River’s economic development commission, only it’s privatized; the City is its sole shareholder. RiverCorp was created after a year of feasibility studies and business plan writing. The thought was that a private economic development function could operate independently of political will. While RiverCorp constitutes its own board of directors, the city has a final say in the board’s members. Stamp’s position is strictly volunteer – he does not receive a paycheque from RiverCorp.

“It’s an interesting way of doing the job. It’s unique in B.C.; there’s been a lot of naysayers,” he said, “(but) it’s working.”
Stamp is still the mountain’s lawyer and has also been involved in several property developments on the mountain, including Creekside and Parkview Place. It’s also an area he enjoys.

Stamp’s real hope is to make Mount Washington a destination for tourists visiting the Island. There are nine million visitors that land on the Island south of the Malahat, and only one million that go north. Stamp wants at least some of those million visitors to think solely of his mountain for their tourism destination.

“The reason I stay with the mountain really is to move the company into a pre-eminent position as a Vancouver Island tourist attraction,” he says. “I think it’s getting there.”