Tomasso Oberti, the designer and public face behind the bid to build a resort on Jumbo Glacier in British Columbia, may finally be getting his mega resort–only it’s not Jumbo. And, at least in its current stage, the circumstances surrounding Valemount Glacier Destination Resort appear to be the exact opposite of Jumbo.
For one, the project has the support of local officials and the First Nations. As of August 17, it also has approval from the British Columbia government.
Jumbo Glacier Resort, the proposed 6,300-bed resort village with more than 20 lifts in the Purcell Mountains just west of Invermere, spent decades mired in the approval process and surrounding controversies. The project was vehemently opposed by environmental groups and First Nations, and controversial not only for the impact it would have on grizzly bear habitat, but also for shady deals that included $310 million in
state provincial and federal grants to support the creation of a municipality with no residents. The resort was dealt an apparent death blow last June when the provincial government announced that the development’s environmental assessment certificate had expired, and that the resort would have to start the approval process over.
In Valemount, a town of about 1,000 residents roughly 200 miles north of Kamloops, the proposed ski resort has gained local support. “The [project] will bring economic well-being to Valemount, and will also have a positive impact on the province of B.C. by attracting tourists from around the world,” Valemount Mayor Jeanette Townsend told the CBC. The Valemount ski area project as been in the works since at least 2011, according to Business in Vancouver.
Representatives with the Simpcw First Nations are also on board. “We’ve looked at the environmental impact and believe that it’s manageable,” said Chief Nathan Matthew in the CBC. “In this particular area, the sensitivity with caribou and grizzly bears is minimal so we feel comfortable with that.” Matthew also noted there are no spiritual sites in the area, according to the CBC.
The resort is expected to cost about $175 million (CDN), less than a fifth of the $1 billion anticipated for Jumbo. At full build-out it will feature a vertical drop of 6,726 feet–the largest in North America–and summer sightseeing lift access and year-round skiing on glaciers as high as 9,850 feet. The lifts will access the summits of Mount Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Twilight Glacier, Glacier Ridge and Mount Arthur Meighen.
“It will be a true multi-peak experience surrounded by stunning glaciers,” says Oberti in a company release. “Valemount Glacier Destinations will feature some of the most impressive viewpoints for sightseeing in North America. It also opens lift access to one of the best snow zones and reliable climates for snowsports on the continent.” Prior to his involvement in Jumbo, Oberti designed Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, B.C.
Valemount is located between Jasper National Park and Wells Gray Provincial Park, near the border with Alberta. The resort hopes to tap into park visitors, according to the company release.
The next step for the Valemount ski resort is the completion of a master development agreement with the province and a rezoning amendment to the official community plan. If all continues to move forward for the resort, construction could begin this spring. The resort could open in December 2017, with full build out happening in 10 to 20 years.
Photos courtesy of Valemount Glacier Destination.
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