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A delegation of mostly technical specialists from France paid a visit the site of the proposed Valemount Glacier Destinations alpine ski resort project last week.

The goal is to establish an alpine resort in the area of Mount Arthur Meighen and Mount Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The French group stayed an extra day from what was originally planned and made two trips to the alpine. Project planner and Vancouver architect Oberto Oberti says he considers the visit to be solid process and an “unmitigated success.”

“Our French friends left completely enthusiastic about the people, the reception, the First Nations’ presentation, the official welcoming from the local and provincial officials, the food, the atmosphere and even the weather and the snow,” he said.

The delegation took snowmobiles and ski toured up the mountain on the second day of their arrival. The third day they took a helicopter.

Among the French group was Benoit Robert and Philippe Lebrasseur of France Neige International. The company advises alpine sectors wishing to develop a sustainable tourism and promotes the development of French mountain knowledge internationally. The technical team also reports to the Compagnie des Alpes and Caisse des Depots, all three of whom work together. The rest of the French delegation consisted of world champion snowboarder Julie Pomaglaski, Didier Bobillier the managing director of Deux-Alpes Loisirs and Stewart Sheppard, a ski development consultant.

Other visitors included Grant Costello, Senior Vice-President of Jumbo Glacier Resort, Doug Brown and Fred Fortier of the Simpcw First Nation, Drew Frymire, Manager of Aboriginal Tourism and Resort Development for the Province of BC, Marc Ismus from Jobs Tourism and Innovation, Jill Bodkin, Mike Leahy and Oberto Oberti.

The visit comes after an Expression of Interest for the Valemount Glacier Destinations project was accepted in January. The next step is for proponents to put together a preliminary Master Plan Agreement, which will involve further site mapping and environmental analysis.

French mountain sport consultant Stewart Sheppard says they thoroughly enjoyed the skiing.

“I have to say I’ve put the time we spent skiing in Valemount right at the top of my favourite moments of skiing. The combination of the steep terrain and the very particular quality of the snow, make for an amazing experience,” he said.

Oberti concurs that the skiing and the sightseeing were superb.

“Our French friends said that the Saturday morning will remain memorable in their entire lifetime, one of the best ever,” he says.

The French are planning another trip to BC this spring. Oberti says Philippe Lebrasseur will visit him in the second week of May, and they are planning the visit of their “key people” to B.C. in July.

Oberti says on behalf of Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd., he wishes to thank the people of Valemount and its leaders for the incredibly warm reception and good organization.

“It is very encouraging both for us and for our guests,” he says.

During the same visit to BC, the French delegation also paid a visit to the site of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort close to Invermere. Oberti is part of the design team for both projects.

He maintains that it may be easier to justify the French entering the North American scene with two projects rather than with only one.

Ski Society Board member Jared Smith says the Ski Society hoped to show the technical analysts the physical suitability of our area.

“We hope to convey that the community has shown interest in the project and we are glad that we have the opportunity to have our concerns heard,” he says.

He says if people wish to contribute, they can show openness toward the project.

“I appreciate that we’ve been “burned” before by outside interests,” he says. “However, we need to stay positive and give new endeavors a fair chance. This project shows tremendous potential. We all need to stay informed on what is going on so that we can contribute in a meaningful and influential way.”