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Ambitious all-season mountain resort proposed near Chilliwack

Proponents say Bridal Veil Mountain Resort could cover 11,500 acres bring in $252 million a year
Looking east at the Cascade Range with the potential Alpine Village site in the foreground. Mt. Archibald rises on the left.

A massive all-season mountain resort with gondolas, skiing, snowboarding and approximately 11,500 acres of mountain recreation terrain is being proposed for Chilliwack.

While the Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) is merely an idea at this point, the project is being led by B.C. residents Norm Gaukel and Robert Wilson, with the support of Whistler-based Brent Harley and Associates (BHA), an experienced mountain resort planning and design firm.

If approved, the resort would be located on the highlands immediately south of the Fraser River, extending over Area D and Area E of the Fraser Valley Regional District and the City of Chilliwack.

Looking east from Chipmunk Ridge (approx. location of Gondola #2 upper terminal), with views of the Cascade Range.
Looking east from Chipmunk Ridge (approx. location of Gondola #2 upper terminal), with views of the Cascade Range.

(See below for more photos of the area in question.)

The announcement of the proposal comes years after a proposed gondola project put forth by Jayson Faulkner, founder of the Bridal Falls Gondola Corporation.

These are not only not the same proposal, but they are competing projects for recreational development in the same area.

READ MORE: Gondola idea to Bridal Falls overlooking Chilliwack goes under the microscope

READ MORE: Petition against Bridal Falls gondola floated by Chilliwack man

Questions over access to the Crown land in the area have created pause among many members of the public in the past.

But those behind the proposed Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) who have filed an Expression of Interest with the Mountain Resorts Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development, say “the resort would strengthen B.C.’s already strong international reputation in the mountain resort market, elevate the region as a tourist destination, and become a major new, year-round economic and tourism driver for the Province.”

The proposal in a preliminary concept is to see visitors travel by gondola from the floor of the Fraser Valley to a vehicle-free, mountain recreation area, where they could ski or snowboard, backcountry tour, hike, sightsee, mountain bike, and participate in year-round ecological and Indigenous cultural programs.

“These activities will effectively be separated and hidden from the valley, offering guests a remote mountain recreation experience with unparalleled views of the Fraser Valley and Cascade Mountain Range.”

A preliminary economic impact analysis conducted by Boulder-based RRC Associates suggests that, at full build-out, as currently envisioned, BVMR would create more than 1,800 full-time equivalent jobs and generate more than one million visits each year (640,000 winter, 460,000 summer).

Based on that visitation, BVMR is projected by those behind the bold project to generate approximately $252 million in regional visitor spending and $35 million in tax revenue each year.

The group say they recognize the importance of the fact that the proposed project is on the traditional and unceded lands of the Stó:lō people, and they want to work with local Stó:lō Communities and business organizations “to explore opportunities for joint equity ownership and management, as well as development options and opportunities.”

They say a consultation process with Stó:lō communities is underway.

“We strongly believe that any project undertaken on Stó:lō land must involve the Stó:lō in whatever capacity they deem appropriate,” Gaukel said in a statement issued Tuesday (April 13). “We see Stó:lō ownership and meaningful participation as key foundations for this project and believe their business expertise and Indigenous perspectives would contribute greatly to the success of the project. Additionally, we recognize that the Stó:lō have used and protected these lands for thousands of years and no one understands them better. If this project proceeds, every decision we make together would honour that Stó:lō commitment to environmental responsibility and land stewardship protection.”

Wilson added that they have received support from local business and community organizations for a resort in the eastern Fraser Valley that “has been needed for many years.”

The entire project is proposed at this point and faces years of approvals from various levels of government and local First Nations.

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Looking north at Mt. Archibald (centre right), Chipmunk Ridge on the left, with the potential Alpine Village site located in the notch just before Mt. Archibald.