A public swimming pool, treetop wire walks, mountain bike trails and mountain-top restaurants are some of the newly revealed features of the proposed Valemount Glacier Destinations project proposed for the Premier Range west of Valemount.
A copy of the 192-page Formal Proposal was provided to the Goat this week and lays out more detailed plans for the year-round ski and sightseeing resort that would be the first of its kind in North America.
Proponent Oberto Oberti and his son Tommaso Oberti are heading up the projects design under their companies Pheidias Project Management Corporation, Oberti Resort Design (a division of Oberto Oberti Architecture and Urban Design Inc.) for the recently formed Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd (VGD).
After filing the Expression of Interest in January, in the spring VGD board members toured around members of several major French ski companies capable of investing in the project.
According to BC Tourism and Resort Operations, the Formal Proposal must include technical information for the proposed resort lands; appropriate mapping; an environmental inventory; a description of the resorts primary attractions and support facilities; and the amount of accommodation planned among many other requirements.
The VGD Formal Proposal is for the creation of a year-round skiing and international-class sightseeing destination on the eastern approaches of the Mt Sir Wilfred Laurier massif, with lift access to the viewpoints and glaciers of Mount Arthur Meighen by way of Mt. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
The proposal gives more precise maps of the study area, which is roughly 41,000 acres. The controlled recreation area would be half that size, about 20,000 acres. The ski run terrain would be 2,500 acres.
The initial 2,000-bed resort base will be situated on a bench just below the mountains via the Westridge Family Loop road, west of Valemount.
The number of beds is much lower than other resorts like Kickinghorse and Revelstoke. The formal proposal notes this is due to its proximity to Valemount which already has many amenities.
The resort is proposed to be far more than just hotels, restaurants and skiing. Among its features is a public swimming pool and spa with year-round capacity of 150 people/day; snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails; mountaineering, backcountry touring, and climbing; tree-top adventures and ziplines; snow tubing; a regulation size hockey rink; downhill and cross-country mountain bike trails; and mountain-top dining.
The formal proposal says full build-out could happen over 25 years.
The proposal notes the high elevation and low chance of rain would make it the only well-suited summer ski area on the continent. It could conceivably become the mecca for professional skiers training in the summertime.
The skiable terrain in winter will feature the longest inbounds vertical drop in the world at 2,408 m (7,900 ft) and, when including the trail to the main valley base, the longest ski run in the world. It will also feature the only ski in/ski out airport in North America.
Facilities for year-round skiing on glaciers and high-alpine glacier sightseeing do not currently exist in North America, although they are common in the European Alps, the proposal says.
The economic model of combining access to spectacular sightseeing with year-round snow sports has been proven for over a century, the proposal reads.
The current study area plans include a valley reserved for a potential future First Nations project, which may be managed in cooperation with the initial development but that will be capable of being an independent source of development and revenue for many generations.
The proposal says they expect a skier density much lower than most ski areas in North America, primarily because the few thousand skiers per day delivered by the lift system will be dispersed over a colossal skiable territory.
At build-out, the resort will have 17 lifts built over three phases, plus eight optional lifts, for a total potential of 24 lifts. The downhill capacity of the ski runs and trails would be 12,641 skiers and snowboarders at one time. The usage rate at build-out is expected to be approx. 35 per cent (in line with industry standards) resulting in approx. 800,000 skier visits over a 180-day winter ski season. Skier and sightseer visitation is expected to be in the range of 3,000 to 5,000 per day at build-out.
In addition to on-mountain restaurants and facilities for skiers, facilities for sightseers will include a viewing platform, lounge/coffee shop at the summit of Twilight Glacier; restaurant seats dedicated to sightseers at Twilight Glacier; a viewing platform and concessions at the summit of Lower Arthur Meighen and at the summit of Mt Arthur Meighen.
In the second phase, a secondary base area with the majority of day parking will open adjacent to the Valemount Airport. This base will eliminate most tour bus and daily car travel to the resort base area and will reduce the road travel time of visitors from Prince George, Jasper and Edmonton, the proposal says. The airport base will be connected to the resort base by a new gondola.
When the resort operations branch receives a formal proposal, it coordinates a provincial interagency, First Nations and local government review. A successful proposal is one that is judged to make the base use of the available Crown land, with the least environmental impact and the best remedial measures to mitigate that impact.
If the proposal is accepted the proponent then signs an interim agreement with the Province and will be invited to prepare a Resort Master Plan, followed by a Master Development Agreement, one of the final stages of the approval process.