Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd. has received an Interim Agreement from the Province for the next stage of exploration for its proposed year-round skiing and sightseeing resort in the Premier Range.

Effective March 27, 2013, the government’s approval of the Interim Agreement allows the proponent, Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd., to begin preparing a resort master plan and participate in the master plan review process. The review process will include detailed analysis of the proposal, assessing its technical and economic feasibility and determining potential environmental impacts as well as any impacts to existing forestry and recreation activities. First Nations consultations will also continue during the review process period.

“Backcountry skiers have long known that this area, so close to Valemount, is a ski mecca, but not many of us envisioned such an amazing project,” says Andru McCracken, Mayor of the Village of Valemount. “We are grateful for the care and duty Valemount Glacier Destinations have shown toward us so far and happy that our partners are taking another step in this direction.”

Marie Birkbeck, secretary and treasurer of the Valemount Chamber of Commerce said the project perfectly fits into the chambers’ economic and tourism development strategy aimed at improving public and private tourism facilities. She says local businesses will also benefit from Valemount Glacier Destination’s marketing efforts aimed at presenting Valemount as a year-round destination.

“For Valemount, this is a very positive signal in times of transition and economic uncertainty.”

The proposed development has strong community support from residents and stakeholders including a petition submitted by the Valemount Ski Society with 500 signatures. Other supporters include Valemount Chamber of Commerce, Yellowhead Outdoor Recreation Association and the Valemount Area Recreation Development Association.

In 2011, the Village of Valemount invited the proponent to consider the Valemount area for a mountain resort development. In November 2012, Valemount Glacier Destinations submitted a formal proposal for the resort to the ministry’s Mountain Resorts Branch.

Before issuing an interim agreement, the resort operations branch 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.”

In a press release from Pheidias Project Management Corp., Stephen Leahy, Chairman of Valemount Glacier Destinations said, “I am very pleased with the work of the Pheidias Group and the entire project team in achieving this important milestone and look forward to beginning work on the master plan as soon as possible.”

The interim agreement is a legal contract between the Province and the proponent which provides a Licence of Occupation to the proponent to enter on the land to conduct studies and data collection activities necessary for the Resort Master Plan, the next stage in the approval process. The agreement is issued for a five year term and is a non-exclusive tenure. The tenure legally entitles the proponent and its representatives to occupy the land but no permanent structures or improvements may be placed on the land.

Proponent Oberto Oberti and his son Tommaso Oberti are heading up the project’s design under their companies Pheidias Project Management Corporation and Oberti Resort Design (a division of Oberto Oberti Architecture and Urban Design Inc.) for Valemount Glacier Destinations.

“On behalf of Pheidias, Valemount Glacier Destinations, and the entire project team, we would like to thank the people of Valemount and the Simpcw First Nation for their continued support and enthusiasm while we continue to work on what will be one of the best mountain destinations in the world,” Vice-President Tommaso Oberti said in a press release.

A copy of the 192-page Formal Proposal was provided to the Goat in October and laid out more detailed plans for the year-round ski and sightseeing resort that would be the first of its kind in North America.

It would feature the world’s largest vertical drop, year-round skiing, high-alpine glaciers and sightseeing that includes Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

The study area covers 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 (Whistler-Blackcomb is approx. 8,000 acres).

The Formal Proposal that was presented to government included technical information for the proposed resort lands; mapping; an environmental inventory; a description of the resort’s primary attractions and support facilities; planned accommodation among other requirements.

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.

Among its potential features is a public swimming pool and spa; snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails; mountaineering, backcountry touring, and climbing; tree-top adventures and ziplines; snow tubing; mountain bike trails; and mountain-top dining.

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 current study area plans include a valley reserved for a potential future First Nations’ project.

At build-out, the proposal says the resort will have 17 lifts built over three phases, plus eight optional lifts 3,000 to 5,000 visitors per day.

For more stories on the proposed resort search our website for “glacier resort.”