by LAURA KEIL
With the approval of Valemount Glacier Destinations Master Plan, it’s not too risky to state that the question now becomes a matter of when it will open rather than if.
While several hurdles remain in the form of government permits under the Master Development Agreement, Valemount Glacier Destinations is finally in the home stretch.
But what will the resort actually look like on opening day?
The resort designers have planned the resort build-out in three phases. On opening day, which they are hoping for Dec. 2017, only part of Phase 1 will be completed.
We looked to the approved Master Plan to learn more about the build-out.
The Valemount area currently has approx. 500 accommodation units (rooms, suites or cabins with varying capacity). We can assume the town can accommodate at least 1000 people at any given time, not counting campgrounds. Phase 1 will include the construction of 861 bed units, nearly doubling the area’s accommodation capacity. These units will be located at the resort base on the mountain and include 70 units of employee housing.
On opening day, there will be “very limited development of the base area,” with only a day lodge, a generator building, and a service building, according to the Master plan. Construction of the resort “village” will begin later. The first phase will be built out in subsequent years, reaching a total of 69 buildings, the plan says.
Phase 1 should be completed in 3-5 years, according to Tommaso Oberti, VP of Pheidias Group.
Oberti says current planning is for opening day is to have a gondola lift to Mt Trudeau, three quad chairs providing access to both sides of Mount Trudeau (including the backside), a glacier T-bar and a magic carpet. The lifts to Glacier Ridge and Twilight Glacier would be completed in the second year.
The Master Plan says water will be supplied from wells, and the resort will have its own state of the art sewage treatment plant. In the first phase, the lift system will reach Twilight Glacier, at elevation 2,530 meters (roughly the same elevation as the top of the Mica Mine Trail or the peak of Mount Terry Fox), allowing for year-round skiing and for a vertical drop of 1,370 meters to the resort village base. “Sightseeing from Twilight Glacier, and especially from nearby Glacier Ridge will be impressive, more impressive than any mountain viewpoint in the National Parks, with an incredible view of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies,” the proponents say in the Master Plan.
These lifts will provide a mix of beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert skiing, with the greatest capacity being at the intermediate level. There is also significantly more beginner terrain than the industry average, according to the plan. Notably, the resort says it will not need to rely on snow-making, something most resorts in the southern half of the province have to take for granted.
According to the Master Plan, the second phase will include a new day skier base area near the Valemount airport, thereby increasing the vertical drop to 1,595m. Phase 2 will increase skiable terrain from Glacier Ridge as well as the northern face of Mount Trudeau.
The resort village will add 88 buildings and 615 bed units at the village site, plus an additional condominium building and townhouse complex at the airport base site for employees reaching a total of 158 buildings and 1,546 bed units by the end of the phase.
The Master Plan shows the lift system in the third phase will reach a saddle below Mount Arthur Meighen, at 3,205 meters, further expanding the summer skiing to an optimal location and creating the most dramatic sightseeing experience of the project, a major international draw showing mountains with glaciers from a spectacular and unique viewpoint. The vertical drop to the resort base near the airport will reach 2,090 meters (6,857 feet), amongst the largest in the world, and could reach 2,260 meters (7,415 feet) with the installation of an optional lift, the second largest in-bounds vertical drop in the world in absolute terms and without requiring snowmaking – a particularly noteworthy attribute that is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.
By the end of phase three, the resort will reach build out with 247 buildings and 1,997 bed units of market housing plus 4 buildings and 298 bed units of non-market employee housing.
The plan says it is assumed that at build out, on peak days, day visitors will total 2,885.