Open House reveals changes to resort plans +VIDEO

VCTV’s coverage of the meeting

by KORIE MARSHALL & LAURA KEIL

There are over 60 changes to the Master Plan for the Valemount Glacier Destinations resort plan, which were revealed at an open house this week.

The BC government’s Resorts Branch hosted another open house for the project on March 16th (after our press deadline this week) at the Valemount Community Hall 6-8pm.

The Open House was designed as an opportunity for locals to ask questions and to review the final plan. The Ministry’s Mountain Resorts Branch held an earlier open house in November 2015, and said the deadline for comments was mid-December 2015. Since then, the proponent has adjusted the plan to reflect public feedback and Ministry input.

Bill Hunter, senior manager of major projects for the Mountain Resorts Branch, told the Goat the Ministry has some discretion under the Lands Act requirements in asking for more feedback. He said there are some specific changes proposed, specifically to the boundary of the Controlled Recreation Area (CRA), to address some concerns around an old growth management area (OGMA), a woodlot license and some commercial recreation in the area.

The changes since the recent round of public feedback are not currently available on the proponent’s website, but Hunter says they will be available at the open house this week. He says he also wanted to make more information from the Environmental Impact Assessment and the proposed mitigation measures available during the meeting, because he recognized the environment is a concern to a number of local residents.

Tommaso Oberti of Pheidias Group says while there are over 60 changes to the Master Plan, most are very minor. Some of the bigger changes are the slightly reduced CRA to accommodate for OGMA’s and a woodlot, the realignment of lift 2.4 to depart from the resort village and lengthening of lift 1.7, and refinements of ski run alignments. He says additional environmental, socio-economic and market studies have also been completed.

He says a Memorandum of Understanding has been finalized with the Valemount Community Forest.

“This is a significant step towards a unique relationship between a mountain resort and a community forest,” says Oberti.
A new section has been added to the master plan related to health and healthcare impacts, including injury projections, he says.

Regarding tenure holders, Oberti says a response has been provided to all issues raised by Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH).

“CMH has reiterated its position of ‘non opposition’ and we are working to continue good relations and increase future cooperation,” says Tommasso. He says a letter has been sent to CMH outlining their intentions to cooperate and the steps that are being taken to do so.

Due to impact on OGMAs, the cat-skiing area originally shown in the master plan has been removed. Oberti says a letter has been sent to Cariboo Cat Skiing indicating their intent to work together with the local cat skiing company in finding a new area within the CRA should they wish to expand operations. He says they are also working with a local guide outfitter and trapper to ensure access to the project area.

The master plan details a proposed year-round ski and sightseeing resort. The version accepted by the province for review last fall is available online at http://valemountglaciers.com/master-plan/.

The news release from the province says comments can be emailed, using the subject line “Valemount Glacier Master Plan Comments”, to: Amanda.Aldrich@gov.bc.ca. No deadline has yet been set for comments on any of the changes.

If the final Master Plan is approved, the province could then offer a Master Development Agreement. The project is also going through a process to change the official community plan (OCP) and zoning for the area with the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. Construction can begin once the master development agreement is accepted and zoning amendments completed.

If you missed the open house, read the Goat next week for our coverage.