Bikes hang on a wall at an MEC store (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck).

A B.C. court has approved the sale of struggling outdoor recreation retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op to a U.S. private investment firm.

In an oral ruling Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick accepted the sale of MEC to California-based Kingswood Capital Management.

She also dismissed an application by the Save MEC group to delay the sale by two weeks, part of an effort to preserve the retailer's status as a co-operative.

“It's disappointing,” Kevin Harding, the national spokesman for the Save MEC campaign, said in an interview.

“We've known from the beginning that this was a bit of an uphill climb,” he said. “The laws that are around the (creditor protection) process don't recognize co-ops or members as being important in the slightest, so the odds were stacked against us.”

A petition launched by the group against the sale had garnered nearly 145,000 signatures by Friday.

“The groundswell of passion that has come up around this process is evidence that people really care about co-ops and community organizations,” Harding said.

He said the judge noted the passion of the co-operative's members in her oral ruling.

Meanwhile, he said the decision raises important questions about the laws governing co-operative organizations in Canada.

The judge also dismissed an attempt by landlords of some of MEC's brick-and-mortar stores to intervene in the proceedings.

On Sept. 14, after struggling with sluggish sales, inventory issues and increasing online competition, MEC filed for creditor protection and announced its sale to a Canadian subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Kingswood.

A spokeswoman for Kingswood said in an email Friday the company will not be issuing a statement on the ruling.

A spokeswoman for MEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.