By Andru McCracken

In a report to Valemount Council, Economic Development Officer Silvio Gislimberti ventured that the path to rebuilding the economy post COVID-19 should be downhill. As in downhill skiing.

Gislimberti advised council that the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP), a provincial grant, could be used to build bridge access over the McLennan River to a proposed ski hill on Mount Trudeau.

Gislimberti said that Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd., the current Recreation Controlled Area tenure holder, would contribute to the project by providing engineered bridge drawings and a geotechnical study for the bridge abutments.

The proposed community ski hill is shown just west of the Valemount airport (airport visible in bottom left corner).

“Once completed, the bridge could be owned and operated by the Valemount Community Forest. This bridge will also represent substantial cost savings for logging operations in the McLennan valley,” he said.

In the near term, the bridge would facilitate access to a community handle-tow lift planned by the Valemount Ski Society. Gislimberti said that the ski society is in the process of applying for permits to operate a community ski hill through the Mountain Resort Branch of the Province of BC.

He estimated the cost of the bridge at $850,000.

Gislimberti said the grant aims to support the Province’s goals of resiliency and the emerging needs of the post pandemic B.C. economy through investing in projects that consider the benefits of residents, local businesses and improve the visitor experience.

“In partnership with the Valemount Ski Society and with the support of local organizations VARDA, YORA, Valemount Chamber, and Community Forest, staff is recommending the Village submit an application to a bridge over the McLennan River, 3.6 km west from Valemount’s airport, in order to considerably facilitate the access to the West Ridge area and to Mount Trudeau,” he said.

“This is a shovel ready project that will provide local job opportunities and immediate economic stimulus for Valemount and the Robson Valley. This new piece of infrastructure will be open for public use and be both community- and visitor-oriented. This project will also support the recovery of the tourism sector in

Valemount and the Robson Valley by providing a new access to an unsurpassed Rocky Mountain experience namely, stunning views of Mount Robson from the Premier Range.”