The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation has released a list of the projects it considers to be priorities under the McBride to Barriere Corridor Regional Economic Investment Pilot Initiative.

The priorities fall into three categories – power, fibre and tourism – which were identified at the pilot initiative forum in Valemount Jan. 16th.

The Ministry picked out four independent power projects (IPPs) as being the priorities for the power category in the McBride area: ecoTECH Energy Group green technology industrial park, Holmes Hydro Inc. run of river projects, Snowshoe Power Ltd. McIntosh Creek run of river project and Castle Mountain Hydro Ltd. run of river project.

The Ministry notes that a new 138 kV transmission line would enhance power reliability and could help stimulate economic development by allowing the development of these IPPs. If approved, a new transmission line would take up to 4-5 years to plan, permit and construct, the Ministry report says.

The Province is also reviewing fibre supply in the region, with the proposed projects in mind. Under the fibre theme, the province has identified the McBride pellet plant and sawmill as a priority. The report says the Simpcw First Nation and Lhtako Dene First Nation (Red Bluff Indian Band) are jointly seeking timber tenure to support a pellet plant and sawmill operation in McBride.

In the Valemount Area, under the tourism theme, several projects made the cut: The Valemount Glacier Destination Resort, the Alpine Coaster and Valemount Trails such as Crystal Ridge, Swift Creek, the Mountain Bike Park and Cranberry Marsh.

The report notes the Valemount Glacier Resort proponent is working with the Resort Development Branch, FLNRO to secure an Interim Agreement, which will allow site investigations to gather baseline information for drafting a resort Master Plan (the next step in FNRO’s All Seasons Resort application process). A formal proposal and Interim Agreement application are expected to be submitted in Spring 2012.

The Village of Valemount has partnered with the Columbia Basin Trust and Valemount Ski Society to collect information to allow them to market the proposed Valemount Glacier Destination Resort to potential investors. Technical advisors and ski technicians from France toured the area in March as part of the effort to market and promote the proposed resort to investors.

The Province is continuing to support Valemount in its efforts to diversify their tourism product through the Resort Municipality Initiative ($250,000 over 5 years to support projects such as development of the Cranberry Marsh trail).

Under the Recreation Sites and Trails BC Program, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) has approved the Crystal Ridge Sled Ski Area and the Swift Creek Trail and is in the process of legally establishing the trails.

JTI, FLNRO and the Village of Valemount are working to determine the appropriate tenures for the Mountain Bike Park and Cranberry Marsh projects. Both projects require further background studies before tenure proposals can proceed.

The report notes there is an opportunity for JTI’s International Trade and Investment Attraction Division to assist by connecting the Alpine Coaster project to potential investors should that be of interest.

Under the power theme is Generex Hydro Ltd, and its 3.5MW Hydro Project at Small River, a few kilometres east of Dunster. Pre-feasibility work by the proponent is well advanced, but the project requires a BC Hydro EPA and connection rights to access the power grid.

Several hydro projects made the cut for the power theme in the Blue River area including Clemina Creek Micro Hydro, Serpentine Creek Micro Hydro, Canoe Reach Geothermal and Shannon Water Power.

The Canoe Reach Geothermal Project is a proposed 10 MW hydro thermal project located between Valemount and Blue River, and currently in the midst of exploration and assessment. The other three projects are proposed hydroelectric run-of-river facilities located between Valemount and Clearwater.

BC Hydro is currently engaged in an area planning study and undertaking First Nations consultations on options for upgrading the North Thompson Transmission system. The North Thompson Area Transmission Project will determine what will be required to facilitate future load growth in the area including potential mines such as Harper Creek. The final study is expected to be completed late June 2012. The province and other partners are also completing a green energy opportunity overview assessment for the North Thompson.

The Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing/Saddle Mountain Ski Resort is a tourism priority in the Blue River area. The Saddle Mountain Ski Resort is a proposed destination ski resort near Blue River. The report says there is an opportunity for JTI’s International Trade and Investment Attraction Division to assist by connecting the resort project to potential investors.

Projects in the Clearwater area include possible upgrades to the Clearwater River and Trophy Mountain Roads and linking potential investors to the Helmcken Falls Lodge.

In the Barriere area, the Barriere Cant Mill and biofuels Production was noted as a priority.

Simpcw First Nation is proposing opportunities related to cant production in Barriere, possibly in conjunction with either a pellet plant or a biocoal plant (or some combination). The Province is reviewing fibre supply in the region to assess opportunities to support regional economic development including the projects proposed at the forum.