By: Korie Marshall
The nearly 300-page draft Master Plan for the Valemount Glacier Destinations is now public, and contains a lot of information about the studies, mapping, and what is planned for future phases and final build out. Here is a brief look at what is planned for the first phase, according to the plan, now available for download at valemountglaciers.com.
The opening phase of the project will see a gondola terminating at one of the peaks at the top of Twilight Glacier, which will allow year-round skiing and an initial vertical drop of 1370 meters (4,495 feet) to the resort base – the third highest accessible by lift in North America. The additional ski out to the airport will mean a total of 1595 meters (5,232 feet) vertical drop. The gondolas will be used for year-round skiing and sightseeing.
In addition to the two sections of gondola, there will also be a Magic Carpet lift to service a ski school area and another to service a tubing area. In the first phase there will also be two detachable quad chair lifts, two T-bar lifts on the glacier and a fixed grip quad chair. The lifts will give access to about 40 runs, a combination of groomed, open and gladed, ranging from beginner (nine runs), through intermediate, advanced, and will include eight expert runs.
For sightseers in the winter, at the top of the gondola there will be a 120-person viewing platform and lounge/coffee shop at the summit of Twilight Glacier and approx. 50 indoor restaurant seats dedicated to sightseers at Twilight Glacier (150 in the summer). There are also further viewing platforms and concessions as phases and lift construction continues.
Other winter activities will include an outdoor skating area located in the middle of the central plaza, as well as an open air ice rink for the resort base; a snowshoeing trail system; a publically accessible, year-round swimming pool and spa services, located in the resort village, either as part of a “founder’s club” or as part of a major resort hotel; and mountain-top evening dining at the summit of Twilight Glacier.
There is also potential for backcountry touring and mountaineering schools; both winter and summer Nordic skiing to complement existing trails maintained by YORA in the area; and treetop walking adventures and zip lines. Also possible, with partnerships or in cooperation with existing businesses and organizations, are snowmobile staging facilities in conjunction with VARDA; snow-cat staging facilities in partnership with Cariboo Snowcat Skiing, whose license area is partly within the resort study area; dog kennel and trails for dog sledding in partnership with Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding; horse sleigh rides in partnership with a local outfitter or operator; a guide outfitting cabin in partnership with Niemeyer Outfitting; and more geocaching sites. There is also potential for cooperation with Canadian Mountain Holidays whose tenure partly overlaps with the resort area, and a possible heli-ski staging facility or lodge within the resort base (though the plan notes that CMH currently opposes the resort).
In summer, besides skiing, sightseeing and other year-round opportunities, there will also be cross-country mountain biking on existing forestry roads and the proposed ski-out trails as well as the potential for downhill mountain biking. Interpretive talks and tours of the local environment will be available from the base and may be combined with existing bird watching and salmon viewing tours in the area. There is also space set aside for a potential 18-hole golf course, but it has not been designed yet, and it will require a separate approval process.
A stand-alone daylodge will be the first building constructed. It will service day skiing and sightseeing, and will be followed by the first destination hotel and the founder’s single family vacation homes providing the initial overnight accommodation. The resort area will not be visible from the main valley floor, and will be self-sufficient in terms of municipal and commercial services. It will have a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant and draw water from wells, and it is expected that services will be provided by a public utility company, with the Simpcw First Nation being one of the partners. Power will be provided by a private utility, and discussions are currently underway with the Simpcw and ATCO to form a utility to provide a 5MW power generating facility independent of the BC Hydro grid. It may utilize propane, LNG or bio-diesel to produce energy.
Initially employees will live in existing housing within the Village of Valemount, but the plan is to eventually provide about 200 beds in Valemount, including family housing, that will become part of the rental pool for employee accommodation, as well as some units that may be necessary at the resort.
Access to the resort will be from Highway 5 via McLennan Road, which also accesses the airport, and then via the forest service road. Both roads may need realignment either initially or before eventual upgrading.
What else do you want to know about the plan? Let us know! goatnewspaper (at) gmail.com
You can read the Master Plan here: http://valemountglaciers.com/master-plan/