Proposed Chilliwack ski resort envisioned as a venue for 2030 Olympics

Jun 7 2021, 4:42 pm

The head of the group proposing to build Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) in the Fraser Valley is backing the potential 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid by British Columbia, on the basis that the ski resort could potentially host some of the competition sports events.

Robert Wilson, the president of BVMR, says his group is announcing their support for 2030 after meeting last week with former VANOC CEO John Furlong, who has been pushing the idea of a repeat Olympic performance for the province over the past year.

Plans for the all-season resort — comparable to the size of the Sun Peaks and Silver Star resorts — were first announced earlier this spring, and an expression of interest (EOI) application was also recently submitted to the provincial government’s Mount Resorts Branch.

It would have about 11,500 acres of mountain recreation terrain, covering a footprint that spans Mt. Mercer, Mt. Thurston, and Mt. Archibald, and supported by a large Valley Base Village and two alpine base villages.

The Valley Base Village next to the Trans-Canada Highway at the eastern edge of Chilliwack would have hotels, restaurants, cafes, retail, and homes. Visitors would park their vehicle at the Valley Base Village, and then board one of two gondola lines to reach the car-free alpine village areas and year-round recreational activities.

This area chosen for the skiing and snowboarding terrain is expected to see significant snowfall and temperatures suitable for snowmaking, based on the area’s records. Ski runs would average 2,300 ft of vertical ski area.

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Footprint of Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Preliminary concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Preliminary concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

The proponents have indicated a potential partnership with the S’olh Temexw First Nation, with early discussions highlighting the possibility for joint equity ownership and management, and development options and opportunities.

“With strong Stó:lō and local community support, and provincial, regional, and municipal governments that are prepared to help us meet deadlines, we are confident that we could build a tremendous mountain resort that meets Olympic standards,” said Wilson.

“But no matter what happens next, we fully support John’s vision and a potential BC bid for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. British Columbians have already shown the world what we can do, and the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Games would be another opportunity to showcase our province and our cities to the world, and we’d like Chilliwack to be a part of that story.”

He adds that this aligns with Furlong’s concept of spreading the Olympic hosting responsibilities and legacies to more BC communities.

The International Olympic Committee’s various major reforms over the past decade, made after 2010, provide hosts with the flexibility to use facilities and venues further away from the main host city, and encourage the establishment of plans that align with the host region’s long-term social and economic goals.

If built, BVMR could position Chilliwack as one of the official host cities for 2030.

“We know there will be a lot of competition from cities around the province to be part of a 2030 bid, but if the Province approves our Bridal Veil Mountain Resort proposal, and we have the support of Stó:lō communities, Chilliwack and the regional district, I’d like all of us to come together and make a proposal to be considered,” continued Wilson.

“While there are no guarantees, the 2010 Games showed all of us the tremendous benefits that come with hosting the Games and being a venue city.”

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Cypress Mountain during the 2010 Olympics. (John Biehler/Flickr)

Cypress Mountain

The Olympic Plaza at Cypress Mountain (Cypress Mountain)

During 2010, Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver held the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, Whistler Blackcomb’s Creekside held alpine skiing, and Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley held biathlon, cross-country skiing, nordic combined, and ski jumping.

But Cypress Mountain was a problematic venue for VANOC, with unseasonably warm weather conditions that winter and the venue’s relatively low elevation resulting in a crisis of a lack of snow. Organizers resorted to using helicopters and trucks to bring in enough snow to ensure the competitions could proceed.

The sports of freestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics have also grown considerably with more disciplines since 2010, resulting in the general need for larger venues.

Ski and snowboard slopestyle and ski half-pipe were added in 2014, snowboard big air was added in 2018, and ski big air will be added in 2022.

It is uncertain whether Cypress Mountain would be suitable re-host for these sports in 2030.

(Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

View looking south from Mt. Archibald, taking in the proposed ski terrain of Bridal Veil Mountain Resort, with Mt. Mercer (centre left) and Mt. Thurston (centre right, shrouded in cloud). (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

The EOI application for BVMR is the first of three stages in the provincial government’s all-season resort development process. If this step is approved, the next stage would be the submission of a detailed formal proposal, and then later on a submission of the comprehensive resort master plan. This process typically takes a number of years, not including the various necessary approvals from the City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Some major proposals not dissimilar to BVMR previously took decades to fully review.

BVMR will be built out over the long term in phases, with the first phase being one of the two sightseeing gondolas. However, the proponents have indicated that the preliminary plans are designed so that the project can quickly scale up and expand as needed.

Proponents will be hosting a virtual open house on BVMR at 7 pm on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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