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Gondola proposal sees Cheam First Nation purchasing golf course at Bridal Falls

Purchase considered ‘significant’ since base location of future gondola would be on golf course lands

The Cheam First Nation is in the process of purchasing the Bridal Falls Golf Club lands independently of Bridal Falls Gondola Corporation, according to an update from Cascade Skyline Gondola Project (CGSP) officials on Tuesday.

“This is a significant action by the Cheam First Nation on behalf of the Cascade Skyline Gondola Project as it is a commitment of additional millions of dollars in investment,” said Cascade officials in a Facebook update.

It’s an “important consideration” for provincial decision-makers and other regulatory agencies since the base location for the gondola project would be on these lands, according to the post.

The ambitious $80 million project is aimed at creating a recreational gondola amenity overlooking Chilliwack that would benefit the local community, region and the province.

“Our team have been working diligently reviewing the final phase of the provincial referral process and moving into the final project decision process.”

The exact timeline for the final decision is not known.

But project reps said they expect to receive the tenure approval early in the first quarter of 2023, “given the broad support and continued endorsement” from the City of Chilliwack, District of Kent, Cheam First Nation, Skwah First Nation and Kwa Kwa Apilt First Nation, as well as stakeholders like Indigenous Tourism BC, CEPCO, Chilliwack Outdoor Club, Tourism Industry Association of B.C.

“We have also begun our discussions with the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) on rezoning and other approvals, and we will begin the formal application for rezoning as soon as we have the final update and clarity from the province on the tenure process.

“We continue to engage our First Nation Partners and support the efforts of additional regional First Nations that have expressed an interest in being partners in the project. CSGP’s main partner, Cheam First Nation, is going to be dealing directly with a number of Sto:lo leaders specifically on this subject sometimes this month. We are confident the outcome of these negotiations will be strong and unified investment group of First Nations.”

Project officials made presentations to chief and council of the Skawahlook First Nation, and to representatives of Seabird Island First Nation, in collaboration with their Cheam partners.

They also recently met with the potentially affected motorized user groups who expressed concerns about their ability to continue using the Chipmunk Creek watershed for recreational activities.

“The meeting was positive and a productive engagement is expected. While working with these groups there will be a number of mitigation options explored although the project tenure has little impact on trails/roads in the drainage.”

Other groups and First Nations will be involved in the land planning discussions outside of the tenure area.

The provincial referral period on land tenure is closed for both public and agency comments.

“First Nations referral comments are yet to come but the official closing date for comments has passed. Continued conversations with the province over the coming weeks will take place to detail any last referral comments and responses. After the closure of the referral period, the province has regrettably been unable to provide a definitive timeline as to when they would render a decision or advise on additional information requests. However, this should be the last review stage before a final decision will be made by the Province.

“We are hopeful it will be before spring 2023.”

Map of the layout of the gondola project proposed by the Cheam First Nation near Chilliwack. The base of the project would be on what is now the Bridal Falls Golf Club. (Submitted)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

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