Valemount Glacier Destinations MDA approved: Early ski resort construction to begin this summer

Left to right: Simpcw First Nation Chief Nathan Matthew, Provincial Minister and MLA Shirley Bond, and resort designer Oberto Oberti sign the Valemount Glacier Destinations’ Resort Master Development Agreement. / EVAN MATTHEWS

Freeride World Tour already eyeing Valemount

by EVAN MATTHEWS

There is nothing left to sign; the Master Development Agreement is signed, and Valemount Glacier Destinations ski and sightsee resort is slated to start construction this summer.

Early construction includes land surveys and engineering pertaining to the lifts and resort roads, tasks that the resort designer Tommaso Oberti calls the “preparatory work” before applying for construction permits to have shovels in the ground.

Oberti says VGD is working toward starting major construction on things like ski lifts in summer 2018, with an estimated open date during winter 2018-2019. The first phase of the resort plan will cost roughly $100 Million.

The two main investors are Hunter Milborne and Greg Marchant, both of Toronto. Marchant called Tommaso Oberti during the Master Development Agreement (MDA) signing as a show of support, symbolically confirming their association with the project.

The resort is located in the Premier Mountain Range — Simpcw First Nation territory — and will result in the Simpcw obtaining Band property within the resort village as part of the Impact and Benefits Agreement.

The resort will provide public access to glaciers at over 3,000 metres (9,850 feet) ­— the only such access in North America — with a vertical drop of 2,050 metres (6,726 feet), the largest in North America and third largest in the world.

The MDA is a signed contract between VGD and the Province, managed by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The Province says the MDA conveys rights to the resort developer and operator, to develop the resort in accordance with the Master Plan, which outlines the scope and layout of the recreational, residential and commercial developments.

The B.C. Government approved the VGD Master Plan in August 2016.

Chief Matthew celebrates with Minister Shirley Bond. / EVAN MATTHEWS

B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and MLA for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond, gave the announcement on Tuesday morning to a full house — 60 people — at the Best Western in Valemount. Simpcw First Nation Chief Nathan Matthew, Resort Designer Oberto Oberti, Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Director Dannielle Alan and Valemount Mayor Jeannette Townsend were also in attendance to help give the announcement.

“This project meets all our requirements for ourselves, the land we live on, and the people we live on the land with,” says Chief Matthew.

“It meets the requirement to respect the land, and we want to be involved in sustainable projects… that benefit future generations,” he says.

Though resort construction is confirmed, how the resort area will be governed remains up in the air.

The resort is located in the Premier Mountain Range, in Simpcw First Nation territory, and will provide public access to glaciers at over 3,000 metres (9,850 feet) ­— the only such access in North America — with a vertical drop of 2,050 metres (6,726 feet), the largest in North America and third largest in the world.

In mid-March, the B.C. government approved a $35,000 Restructure Planning Grant to the Village of Valemount for a municipal boundary extension study that would include the destination resort.

The Village of Valemount is still in the process of securing more funding for the study, according to Council’s Mar. 28 agenda.

The Premier Range, and site of the new resort. / SUPPLIED BY VGD

The grant enables Village of Valemount officials and staff — and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) — to study the impact, benefits and challenges involved in extending the Village’s municipal boundary to include the proposed VGD Resort, according to the Province.

The governance and boundary extension process is supposed to help Council, the RDFFG and Valemount area residents consider how the ski resort will be governed — whether the resort be part of the Village, Regional District, or its own municipality. The Village of Valemount could incorporate the resort by a contiguous (geographically-connected) or satellite boundary extension, according to the Village’s Economic Development Officer Silvio Gislimberti.

The study’s aim is to identify the pros and cons of the various options.

The study will examine: services such as sewer and water to the area of extension, the financial health of local government, additional areas of responsibility, community identity and cohesion, and current tax rates.

The RDFFG finished the resort area’s rezoning — zoning created specifically for the resort — and its Official Community Plan amendment in August 2016, according to the regional district, while the Simpcw First Nation signed the Impact and Benefit Agreement with VGD in September 2016.

A community celebration will be held in June 2017.