By: Korie Marshall

Valemount Glacier Destinations (VGD) has reached a major milestone, with confirmed investors to help complete the Master Plan. Hunter Milborne and Greg Marchant, both of Toronto, have just joined the investor group for the project.

The agreement was signed on Nov. 28th, and Tommaso Oberti, spokesperson for VGD, says the investment is expected to carry the project through to the Master Development Agreement stage, one of the final phases of government approval.

Work on the Master Plan is currently ongoing, and Oberti told the Goat recently they aim to submit the plan to the government in early 2015, with public consultation to follow.

“We are working diligently to build an unparalleled mountain destination in cooperation with the people of Valemount and the Simpcw First Nation,” said Oberto Oberti, the project’s designer and the president and CEO of VGD, in a news release. “Our goal is to achieve a Master Development Agreement with the Province by the spring of 2016.” If the agreement is reached and permits acquired, construction would begin shortly thereafter.

“We are very pleased with the involvement of Mr. Milborne and Mr. Marchant who bring a wealth of experience and success in both real estate development and tourism,” said Stephen Leahy, Chairman of VGD, in the release. He calls it a major milestone in the project’s financing requirements and overall growth towards final approval and the start of development.

Milborne told the Goat in an interview that they have agreed to have just one spokesperson for the project, which would be Tommaso Oberti. “But I can certainly tell you that we are happy and excited about it.”

According to their business websites, both Milborne and Marchant have a lot of experience in real estate in the Greater Toronto Area. Tommaso Oberti says Milborne was also one of the investors in the Revelstoke project, and prior to that was active in a number of projects in Vancouver.

In a video interview on his company’s website, Milborne explains his company Milborne Real Estate is a “boutique real estate firm with about 150 staff” that specializes in selling urban high rise condos on a pre-sale basis. He says an existing condo is a great investment because you can own it and rent it out without having to deal with the same issues you’d deal with in a house. Tenants can call property management to get the services they might otherwise have to call the owner for. But he says presales are an even better investment.

“The appeal for people to invest in a presale product is really one of leverage,” says Milborne in the video. “Say you purchase a $400,000 condo today, and take delivery four years from now. If your market is appreciating even at a low rate of 2-3.5 per cent – even without compounding it’s up 12 per cent. That is a big return. And in that 3 to 4 years for delivery, there is no management headaches, no trouble for an investor.”

Milborne says markets always go in cycles. “The keys are – don’t buy more than you can afford, and don’t sell at the wrong time.”

Another website shows a real estate investment partnership between Milborne and Marchant called MM Realty Partners LP. It says Marchant has over 30 years experience in real estate development, construction and property and asset management, and has been involved in initiating, structuring and managing over 50 investments.

Members of the VGD board were expected in Valemount on Tuesday Dec. 16th to meet with the new Council and executives of the Valemount Ski Society. Jared Smith, spokesperson for the Ski Society, says they have been compiling a list of concerns from the community, and providing suggestions on those concerns. Smith says they are sending the list to Bill Hunter, senior manager of the Mountain Resorts Branch of the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Oberto Oberti before the meeting, and he hopes there will be time to discuss them.

Smith says some of the top concerns heard from the community are public transportation, preference for local employment and procurement opportunities, housing issues, ski discounts, and development within the Village vs. at the resort base.

The Valemount Glacier Destination project plans to offer high alpine glacier sightseeing, year-round skiing and the largest vertical drop in North America by a wide margin. It is expected to attract destination visitors from around the world.