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Proponents of Chilliwack’s ambitious ski resort project forge ahead

Bridal Veil Mountain Resort officials attend ski resort conference in France

The proponents of an ambitious all-season resort near Chilliwack recently attended a mountain tourism industry conference in France last month and they met with key industry stakeholders at a ski resort event in Lake Louise, Alberta.

The ambitious proposed all-season Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) is currently working with the provincial mountain resorts branch and is in the expression of interest stage.

The massive all-season mountain resort is proposed to have gondolas, skiing, snowboarding and approximately 11,500 acres of mountain recreation terrain is the mountains south of Chilliwack extending over Area D and Area E of the Fraser Valley Regional District.

READ MORE: Ambitious all-season mountain resort proposed near Chilliwack

The project’s proposed area overlaps with a much more modest proposal that is in the planning stages at the same time, the Cascade Skyline Gondola Project (CSGP).

The BVMR and CSGP projects are currently in a “beauty contest” with the provincial government, according to CSGP proponent Jayson Faulkner.

While Faulkner has touted the gondola project as relatively low impact, and the partnership with the nearby Cheam First Nation, the two projects are quite different. The BVMR proposal is a much larger all-season resort project.

The CSGP project would lift guests from the base at Bridal Falls Golf Course 1,250 metres up to the ridges on the mountains above. From there, there would be a variety of walking and hiking options from difficult to moderate to wheelchair accessible. The most ambitious could wander widely into the mountains while others could just enjoy the ride up and down.

BVMR proponents issued a press release in late April saying two members of the project were planning to attend Mountain Planet in France (April 23 to 28), “where it has accepted an invitation to be one of five international speakers on a panel exploring mountain tourism industry issues and strategies.”

At the same time, other members of the BVMR team met with key industry stakeholders at the Canada West Ski Areas Association’s (CWSAA) annual Spring Meeting in Lake Louise, Alberta (April 26-28).

“Mountain Planet is the world’s largest and most prestigious conference for mountain development,” the release said. “Held every two years in Grenoble and Alpe D’Huez in France, it brings together more than 23,000 professionals from 67 countries and 900 brands to explore a wide range of issues and ideas. Participants include resort operators, national ski associations, destination marketing organizations, equipment manufacturers, service providers, and government ministries.”

“Mountain Planet provides a unique opportunity for us to further build project awareness, connect with potential vendors and learn more about the European market and tourists/skiers for whom authentic Indigenous experiences are a high priority,” BVMR executive vice president Jeff Wilson said. “Given our commitment to Stó:lō cultural, traditional, and land stewardship values as the foundation for all BVMR planning, we’re also excited to explore cutting edge ideas and technologies other operators are using to bolster their environmental sustainability and proactively address any future challenges of climate change.”

Wilson emphasized that their project is committed to “Indigenous ownership, design, and management, ensuring that it is a Stó:lō-led project in S’ólh Téméxw.”

While the BVMR project mentions Stó:lō participation, the competing CGSP has included the nearby Cheam First Nation as equity partners.

Certain areas of the mountains used for traditional Indigenous practices would be managed and protected from impacts. Traditional uses include both cultural and spiritual practices such as regalia storage, ceremonial use, gathering and other activities.

“These identified areas could be of profound importance for our culture and its future if identified and protected as part of a larger land-planning and land-management process which the CSGP is unique in its ability to provide,” said Ernie Victor, project lead for Cheam First Nation.

Both projects are in the proposal stage working with different branches of the provincial government, but the CGSP does have the support of the two local MLAs, MP Mark Strahl, the Fraser Valley Regional District, the mayors of Chilliwack and the District of Kent, Tourism Chilliwack, and Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation.

READ MORE: Chilliwack gondola project has support from Indigenous groups and local politicians

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