Tom Oberti of Valemount Glacier Destinations says they are making progress on the Resort Master Plan for the proposed ski resort west of Valemount and they had several important meetings this fall.

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, the proponent group.

Oberti says they are preparing the background studies for the master plan, and they have finished the aerial survey with McElhanney Consulting Services. He says they expect to have the topography needed for the master plan any day.

Oberti also mentioned they had a site visit with the French representatives of Cluster Montagne in July, and had a meeting in France in September.

Cluster Montagne was formed in 2012 as a merger of France Neige International and Cluster des Industries de la Montagne. The organization’s mission is “To represent and promote throughout the world the French know-how for sustainable mountain tourism development.”

Oberti, who is on the board of Valemount Glacier Destinations, told the Goat in June that financing for the current planning stage is secured. A new investor or investors would have to step in for the actual construction and/or management. He notes the Valemount Glacier Destinations board of directors may handle the development of the resort or may step away, depending on the wishes of the final investors.

The company cannot secure investors until the resort master plan has been approved by the Province, but Oberti told the Goat they already have interest from investors in the project.

The design and scope of the plan will be finalized in the Resort Master Plan, he says; everything down to the dÔ©cor will be spelled out, leaving little room for changes when the investor comes into the equation, unless more government approvals are sought, he says.
Oberti says they are working with the BC government’s Mountain Resort Branch to meet all their requirements.

They are scoping the environmental work with the assistance of the Simpcw First Nation and are planning a site visit with representatives of the First Nation, what Oberti says will be a “milestone.”

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

Oberti says they expect to have material soon for the regional district’s rezoning application to start the process concurrently with the provincial review process.

The Master Plan review process by the provincial government includes 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 also continue during that time.

Numerous maps were on display at a public information session in Valemount this past June, showing where and how the development might occur. Tom Oberti explained that the exact plans for the resort are not finalized until the resort master plan is done.

He says one change they are considering is pushing up the lift that reaches the Valemount airport to one of the first phases, rather than later on. When built, Valemount’s resort will feature the only ski in/ski out airport in North America.

A copy of the 192-page Formal Proposal was provided to the Goat in October 2012 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.

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 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).

According to the Formal Proposal submitted to the government in 2012, 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 the resort’s potential features are 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.

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.

The Village of Valemount has commissioned a study about the pros and cons of incorporating the Resort Base into the Village boundary. The study has not yet been completed.

By: Laura Keil