There is a new proposal to build a massive ski resort in the mountains that frame Chilliwack to the southeast.
Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) in the Fraser Valley 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.
Unlike the local ski hills on the North Shore mountains, BVMR would be a destination resort for both day-use and overnight visitors. The Valley Base Village near the Trans-Canada Highway would have hotels, restaurants, cafes, retail, rental housing, a grocery store, and resort homes.
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This would also be a vehicle-free destination; visitors would travel on a short access road from the highway, park their vehicle at the Valley Base Village, and then board one of two gondola lines to reach the alpine village areas and year-round recreational activities ranging from skiing and snowboarding to hiking and mountain biking.
These activities could be complemented by access to backcountry touring, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, zip-lines, aerial adventure courses, events, competitions, races, and festivals. As well, the area’s unique views of the Fraser Valley and Cascade Mountain Range would make this a sightseeing attraction.
This area is chosen for the resort as it 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.
The summit elevations are higher than most ski resorts in the region, except for Whistler Blackcomb and Manning Park Resort.
Proponents have emphasized 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.
“We would look forward to incorporating local First Nations traditional, cultural, and land stewardship values, developed in partnership with local Indigenous communities,” said Robert Wilson, one of BMVR’s leaders, in a statement.
“The support we have received from local business and community organizations has been tremendous, with most expressing the view that a resort like this, at this end of the valley, has been needed for many years. Working with First Nations and with local stakeholders, we have the opportunity to create a community asset that will benefit the Fraser Valley for many generations to come.”
Whistler-based Brent Harley and Associates (BHA) is behind the resort’s high-level design concept prepared for the expression of interest (EOI) application stage recently submitted to the provincial government’s Mountain Resorts Branch. The firm is known for creating master plans for recreation-based resort destinations worldwide.
The EOI 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. The entire process could take a number of years, plus the necessary approvals from both the City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Regional District given the project footprint boundaries.
It should be noted that this is a brand new project that was not previously proposed or rejected.
“We have an opportunity to exceed the highest environmental standards and create a progressive and environmentally-friendly resort that responds to the realities of climate change,” said Brent Harley, president of BHA.
“Working together, we also have the potential to build the resort as a sustainable community and all-season destination that could rival some of BC’s largest mountain resorts while adding to the strength and reputation of the province’s tourism industry.”
A preliminary economic impact analysis by Boulder-based RRC Associates found that the full build-out of all four phases of the resort could create over 1,800 full-time jobs and generate over one million visitors each year, including 640,000 during the winter and 460,000 during the summer.
The resort would be able to handle about 11,000 skiers at a time, which would be comparable to the capacities of Sun Peaks and Silver Star.
The relative close proximity to the US-Canada border and Vancouver International Airport — compared to the distance to other major BC destination ski resorts — could make this a major destination for international tourists.
When fully complete, BVMR could generate $252 million in regional visitor spending and $35 million in tax revenue annually.