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Gondola project near Chilliwack gains ‘environmental warrior’ to guide planning

Arthur DeJong, former mountain planner at Whistler Blackcomb, is joining Cascade Skyline team

The Cascade Skyline Gondola Project has tapped Arthur DeJong, a former mountain planner at Whistler Blackcomb, to guide its planning efforts.

His work will explore “the extraordinary opportunities” to create a sustainable cultural tourism amenity with Cascade and their First Nation partners east of Chilliwack.

“Developing nature-based tourism is our greatest opportunity in terms of profitability/diversification for rural communities,” DeJong said.

DeJong has been described as a “global climate warrior” for having collaborated with some of the leading experts in sustainability planning and environmental work.

Under his watch at Whistler Blackcomb, they were honoured with 16 national and international awards for their social and environmental commitment and he’s amassed experience assisting governments, NGOs and industry throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.

“The opportunity to work with the Cheam First Nation community, the Pelólxw Elders to expand our knowledge and practices with traditional knowledge of how to heal the land and restore habitat, measure and monitor its health and protection of cultural uses is a foundational principle in the project,” said Ray Douglas, Cheam councillor. “Our community is looking forward to sharing this vision and working with Arthur to see what we can accomplish.”

DeJong was part of the Whistler Alliance for Cultural Tourism, the Habitat Improvement Team, Whistler Bear Working Group and a director at the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, addressing both the U.N. and the World Bank on climate resiliency and mountain environments. Under his guidance, Whistler Blackcomb developed the ‘Commitment to Zero Strategy’ now embraced throughout the Vail Resorts system. He has a farming background in Abbotsford and knows the Chilliwack area well.

The Cascade Skyline project is a proposal featuring a gondola to take guests from the base at Bridal Falls Golf Course up to the ridges on the mountains above. From there they plan to offer walking and hiking options from difficult to moderate to wheelchair accessible.

The Cascade gondola project is based on cultural values of the nearest First Nation and a partnership with a paragliding group, another project, the Bridal Veil Mountain Resort, announced last year, is seeking Stó:lō support and has Olympic aspirations for its large resort proposal.

RELATED: Gondola project under the microscope

RELATED: Cascade Skyline team gains support of local FN, politicians

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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