Hemlock Resort plan gets green light

Province supportive of expansion plan for ski hill, lauding potential for business growth in the surrounding area

An artist's rendering of a full buildout of Hemlock Resort.

An artist's rendering of a full buildout of Hemlock Resort.

The Hemlock Resort Master Plan has been approved by the provincial government.

This is one of the final hurdles the mountain’s management company, Berezan Management, will have to climb in an attempt to revitalize the mountain. They started creating the massive plan seven years ago, after purchasing the assets out of foreclosure. The plan includes a sizeable expansion in both size and in operational seasons, with the hopes of making Hemlock a viable, year round resort.

While the average number of skiers in 2010 was about 1,150 a day, the hill hopes to one day see 13,440 skiers on the hill each day.

Hemlock Resort announced the news on Facebook on Friday morning, posting a letter sent to owner Ralph Berezan from the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“Hemlock Resort has addressed the concerns raised through the course of the review to FLNR’s satisfaction with amendments to the Master Plan and commitments that will be incorporated into the Master Development Agreement,” the letter states. “In the coming months, our office will be working with you to finalize the new MDA which will replace your existing agreement for the resort.”

The finalizations will include working with Sts’ailes on the establishment of a First Nation Woodland Licence over the Controlled Recreation Area, as well as support from the government in working with the Fraser Valley Regional District.

The letter, attributed to Terry Pratt of the Mountain Resorts Branch, said the plan will bring “much-needed capital investment in recreational infrastructure and all season tourism opportunities.”

Hemlock Resort congratulated management on securing the support of the government.

“After seven years of focused effort, working closely together with Sts’ailes and the BC Provincial Government in the development of a new Master Plan for Hemlock Resort, we are pleased to announce that we have cleared one of the final hurdles by securing approval for the development plan,” the resort’s Facebook page reads. “This announcement brings Hemlock resort one step closer to becoming a year round playground in the Fraser Valley.”

Over those seven years, Berezan has reached out to residents in the the small communities that surround the mountain. They officially unveiled the master plan in 2010, when the review process began. In September 2013, they set up an open house in nearby Sts’ailes to meet with the public.

The grand plan is that Hemlock Resort will one day stretch from the mountaintop, down to the shores of Harrison Lake. While the resort is small now, the surrounding area gives it great potential, the master plan says.

“At first glance, Hemlock’s physical attributes might be dismissed as insubstantial when compared to the world’s great mountain resorts,” it reads. “As illustrated in this Master Plan, the opportunities at Hemlock are very significant.”

The resort may one day feature a mountainside golf course around 10 Mile Bay, overlooking the western side of Harrison Lake, with a chair lift stretching up into the distance to move mountain bikers around the hills.

According to the plan, the main resort would feature hotel rooms, upgraded lifts and four season attractions that would extend the mountain’s viability from three months to a full year.

It’s a 55-year plan,” Berezan told Black Press at that open house, and will roll out in several stages. While some of the final stages may seem lofty, he said, the initial plan is to upgrade existing services.

“The first phase is to build a new chair to replace our oldest one,” he said. Also to be considered as soon as possible would be a hotel with about 22 beds.

But first, the plan will now go the Fraser Valley Regional District for approval, and possibly for amendments to the region’s Official Community Plan.

It’s good news for a hill that had to cancel its most recent ski season, due to a lack of snow and heavy rains.

The plan was designed by Brent Harley, planner behind Big White Ski Resort, along with ski and bike parks around the world. At full buildout, the plan estimates the hill will provide 1,500 plus year-round and seasonal jobs. The project is expected to bring 34,000 person years of construction related employment over the course of 15 to 20 years of development. The total cost the mountain attraction facilities to buildout is approximately $102 million (in 2010 figures).

The current Master Plan, including a water license review from 2013, is available online on the Ministry’s website.

Berezan Management has not responded to a request for an interview.

 

Just Posted

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read