The Fraser Valley’s Hemlock Resort will now see a massive expansion after the B.C. government approved a $1.5 billion plan to revitalize the sleepy ski hill.
Located just north-west of Harrison Hot Springs and about a two hour drive from Vancouver, Hemlock Resort currently operates 35 trails and four chairlifts, as well as a terrain park, tube park, snowshoeing, and a ski club, over the space of about 350 hectares of mountain.
The expansion will build Hemlock as an all-season resort and expand its size to 6,000 hectares with 23 chairlifts and 20,000 hotel beds. But don’t expect the transformation right away; the plan says the expansion will take place over 60 years.
Existing ski runs:
Ski run map upon completion:
Growing the ski and board amenities is just one facet of the new development; Hemlock plans to build the mountain into a downhill and cross-country biking “mecca” for summer months and establish an array of developments on the Harrison Lake waterfront. Other planned summer amenities will include:
- Extensive network of trails for hiking, walking and jogging
- Horseback riding
- Downhill mountain bike park
- Zip lines
- Tree walk adventures
- Interpretive hiking tours
- 18-hole golf course
- boating, swimming, etc. on Harrison Lake
Beyond activities, Hemlock will establish itself as a true resort destination for local and out-of-town visitors by building a mountain base ski-in/ski-out village which can accommodate over 16,500 visitors a day, reminiscent of Whistler Village. There will be nine total unique developments in this plan for both residential and resort accommodation.
The first will be the pedestrian-oriented West Face Village, which will become “the iconic focal point of Hemlock” and will include grocery stores, liquor store, post office, medical centre, school, church, community centre, library, movie theatre, and retail stores, along with a number of restaurants and bars.
Hemlock Village will make use of the existing base area for day-use amenities like restaurants, equipment rentals and repairs and more.
The Pinnacle development will be located at the top of the mountain and only be accessible by gondola, and will include a hotel, restaurant and some retail shops.
Luxury-minded visitors may enjoy a stay at the Chateau Hemlock, inspired by the grand Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. The hotel will include indoor/outdoor recreation facilities, a spa, restaurants and shops and a conference centre.
Residential real estate will also be built at Hemlock will low density single family units and medium density multi-family units next to direct trail access in the areas called The Residents and The Enclave.
Most unique to the resort will be the Quqwathem Village, a First Nations-themed village on the traditional Sts’ailes territory adjacent to Harrison Lake. The space will be co-developed by the Sts’ailes and the Berezan Group and will be designed to showcase traditional First Nations architecture, values and activities. With waterfront access, the Village will offer boating, fishing, swimming and a beach.
Also near Harrison Lake and next to Quqwathem Village will be the Cottonwood Estates with an 18-hole golf course and low-density housing, also a joint venture with the Sts’ailes Band.
The Berezan Group bought Hemlock in 2006 and has already invested $10 million into improving the existing infrastructure. The additional plans should add another 1,153 full-time jobs during the first phase of the expansion.
“All-season resorts provide great recreation opportunities for families in communities throughout British Columbia,” said B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson in reaction to the deal. “This collaborative and innovative approach to integrated resource management between the Province, proponent and First Nation will help ensure Hemlock Resort continues to provide year-round jobs and outdoor fun for local residents and visitors to the Fraser Valley.”
Hemlock is one of 36 mountain resorts in B.C. and one of six ski resorts serving the Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky region.
The new expansion, if successful, will put Hemlock in a comparable sphere to Whistler Blackcomb:
- Whistler Blackcomb: 3,300 h
- Hemlock Resort (after expansion): 6,000
- Whistler Blackcomb: 200+
- Hemlock Resort: 283
Number of lifts:
- Whistler Blackcomb: 37
- Hemlock Resort: 23
- Whistler Blackcomb: 17,990
- Hemlock Resort: 13,440