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

By Laura Keil

Starting in January, trees will begin to fall along the ski runs of the proposed Valemount Glacier Destinations resort.
While funding for the project hasn’t been announced, the logging will facilitate faster construction should the financing come through, and allow the local ski society to build a handle-tow community ski hill while the larger project is pending, says Valemount Ski Society President Joseph Nusse.

“Either VGD has funding this spring, or the ski society will initiate installation of the handle tow ski lift this summer,” said Nusse.

The logging of the ski runs is scheduled for Jan. 15, says Valemount Community Forest (VCF) manager Craig Pryor, though he can see it starting slightly later. He said the logging and short section of logging road should take approximately 1.5 months. The ski runs—located in the community forest tenure—will be clearcut logging and are a mix of douglas fir, spruce, pine, balsam, cedar and hemlock.

He said the Ski Society is completing the layout of the runs and letting the VCF know what they want. The community forest has already submitted a rationale to the Province to allow them to harvest ski runs that don’t meet visual quality objectives.

“These ski runs will be very visual from Abernathys,” Pryor said.

He doesn’t foresee any issues with the government, but they are still working towards a final plan.

This past summer, the Valemount Ski Society and Simpcw First Nation completed a cultural heritage assessment study to allow the construction of a 280-metre-long handle tow lift in the Westridge area within traditional Simpcw Territory.

The report noted two concerns—a grizzly den and a western yew. The yew will require a 5m buffer and the den will require a Wildlife Management Plan.

The proposed community ski runs are in the lower part of the controlled recreation area of the Valemount Glacier Destination Resort and the partners of the Master Plan Development Agreement—Simpcw and Valemount Glacier Destinations Ltd.— have expressed their support of the community ski lift and ski runs.

Nusse said the capital is mostly raised to install the handle tow lift, which was permanently lent to the community by proponents of Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort until the VGD resort is built.

At their Dec. 14 meeting, Valemount Council agreed to write a letter to the District Manager of the Ministry of Forests Lands and Resource Operations (FLRO) regarding public support of ski runs in the proposed area of VGDR.