Glacier Destinations Master Plan now public

Photo: Korie Marshall Overhead view of Phase 1. The proponents plan to open with 5 lifts, a day lodge and a mountain top restaurant, and are aiming to open Canada Day 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.
Photo: Korie Marshall
Overhead view of Phase 1. The proponents plan to open with 5 lifts, a day lodge and a mountain top restaurant, and are aiming to open Canada Day 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.

By: Korie Marshall

Nearly 200 residents packed the Valemount Community Hall on Wednesday for the first government-mandated input session for the all seasons resort proposal just west of the village.

If approved, proponents of the Valemount Glacier Destinations (VGD) all seasons resort are still hoping for a soft opening for locals of one or two ski lifts for Christmas 2015. They are hoping for a grand opening of five lifts, a day lodge and a mountain top restaurant on Canada Day 2017, coinciding with Canada’s 150th birthday, says Tommaso Oberti, vice-president of the VGD board.

Oberti says the exact numbers of employees needed for opening is more in the realm of operations than planning, but believes it may be in the range of 200-250 employees. “We are working with an experienced ski area manager to determine the staffing requirements for opening day,” he says.

Build-out of Phase 1, which will include two hotels, some single family residences and some staff accommodation, is expected to take up to five years. Full build-out to the end of phase 3 may take up to 30 years, and is expected to offer 157 full-time year-round jobs and 479 part-time year-round jobs, according to the Master Plan’s socio-economic analysis. Resort construction over the three phases is estimated to cost $500 million, and is expected to generate over 5,000 jobs from direct and indirect employment.

Bruce Wilkinson, president of Valemount Ski Society, says people should let the provincial government know if they support the project, not just any concerns they may have.

“As both support and concerns go on record with this branch of government, if only concerns are received it may look like the community is not behind the development,” says Wilkinson.

Representatives from the ministry’s Mountain Resorts Branch as well as representatives from the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and VGD board members held the joint meeting on Nov. 4th.

A branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Mountain Resorts Branch administers major resorts and community ski areas on Crown land under the All Seasons Resort Policy. The Branch is responsible for issuing land and timber tenures within Controlled Recreation Areas, and is responsible for issuing the Master Development Agreement if the proposal is approved, as well as monitoring and gauging compliance of the agreement’s commitments.

Bill Hunter, Senior Manager for the Mountain Resorts Branch is accepting input on the master plan, and says the province could require the proponents to assist the community with such things as housing strategies and public transportation. The Resort Policy does require the proponents to provide between 10 and 20 per cent of the bed count as employee housing, and Phase 1 currently plans for 15 per cent.

Terry McEachen, manager, and Heather Meier both of Development Services for the Regional District presented information on the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment for the resort. The OCP and zoning amendments are part of the permitting required before construction, should the Master Plan be approved. McEachen says the Board has passed first reading of the OCP amendment and is now accepting public input. The bylaw would update the district’s Resort-Commercial policies, and designate about 8966 hectares of Crown land as Resort-Commercial, the same land-use designation as was used for the Canoe Mountain project. Meier says the designation will not support home-based businesses, but would support bed and breakfasts and other types of tourist accommodation, and would direct most other types of development outside of specific resort development to the Village of Valemount and surrounding communities.

Other activities currently planned for the resort are snow tubing, snowmobiling, snow-cat skiing and tours, dog sledding and horse sleigh rides, heli-skiing, backcountry touring, climbing and mountaineering, ice skating and other ice sports, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, swimming pool and spa services, tree-top walking adventures and ziplines and guide outfitting. Oberti says the resort base is designed to be compact, pedestrian only, with a low environmental impact. He says the base has been moved at least twice because of two rare plant communities that were found.

Comments can be submitted to Bill Hunter at Bill.Hunter@gov.bc.ca or Gord Humphrey, Land Officer with the branch at Gordon.Humphrey@gov.bc.ca.

Comments on the OCP amendment can also be submitted to the Regional District by Nov. 30th. Comments can be delivered by hand, mail or fax to the Regional District office, or by email to
developmentservices@rdffg.bc.ca.

The Master Plan can be downloaded from valemountglaciers.com under the Project tab.