All-season resort proposed for east of Chilliwack signs letter of intent with Swiss gondola maker

The original article was published on May 16th, 2024 in Fraser Valley Today.

CHILLIWACK — Bridal Veil Mountain Resort, the all-season resort envisioned for the mountains east of Chilliwack, and Swiss ropeway manufacturer Bartholet AG have signed a letter of intent that would see the first Ropetaxi gondola system in Canada installed if the ski resort is ever built as planned.

According to a news release earlier this month, the partnership between Bartholet AG and BVMR reflects the proposed resort’s commitment to environmental responsibility and integrating industry-leading practices into mountain resort design.

Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, headquartered in Flums, Switzerland, says it is a leading international company in the fields of ropeway systems, amusement parks, and mechanical engineering and lighting systems, according to its website.

The Bridal Veil Mountain Resort team was recently invited to Switzerland by Bartholet AG. Bartholet is part of the HTI Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of aerial gondolas and lifts. BVMR touts Bartholet AG’s range of innovative products, including a state-of-the-art Ropetaxi gondola system that requires up to 50 per cent less energy to operate than traditional aerial gondolas, making them the greenest solution on the market.

The Ropetaxi is described as a new gondola product that has autonomous drive capabilities that can connect several gondolas together and transport users to multiple destinations. This would allow BVMR visitors to arrive, park their car at the base of the mountain, and choose their destination with the press of a button (e.g., ski hill, village, lobby of their hotel, etc.). A gondola car would arrive at their platform, doors would open like an elevator, and the car would rejoin the moving ropeway and whisk the users away to their desired location, according to a description on the BVMR website. The Ropetaxi only dispatches cars when users require them, ensuring no extra gondola cars are in use. The Ropetaxis would provide public transportation throughout the BVMR property and create an alpine area free of vehicle traffic, BVMR says.

BVMR / Bartholet AG’s gondola system.

BVMR president Robert Wilson said, “The Ropetaxi is an innovative technology that will fundamentally change how a resort and surrounding community are built. This will be a completely new way of envisioning a walkable community.”

BVMR’s goal is to become the first all-season mountain resort in Canada to be jointly planned, developed, owned, and operated in full partnership with participating local First Nations Communities.

As a multi-phase development, Bridal Veil Mountain Resort would be built in stages, according to its website. The first phase features an eco-friendly gondola that would rise 1,480 meters above Chilliwack, offering breath-taking 360-degree views of the Fraser Valley and the Cascade Mountain range.

Once it grows to meet tourist demand, a second sightseeing gondola would be built to whisk guests to a vehicle-free mountain recreation area hidden 1,200 meters above the Fraser Valley. In winter, guests will be able to ski or snowboard, backcountry tour, cross-country ski, skate, snowshoe, go tubing or sightsee. In summer, they can hike, camp, sightsee or go downhill or cross-country mountain biking. Ecological and Indigenous cultural programs and sightseeing will be available year-round.

While these facilities, programs and activities remain to be planned and designed in detail, project backers say patrons will be effectively separated and hidden from the valley floor, offering guests a remote mountain recreation experience with spectacular views of the Fraser River and the Cascade Mountain Range. The physical potential of the site suggests that visitation could equal that of B.C.’s premier resort destinations, but final guest capacity will be formulated in consultation with Stó:lō communities and engagement with local communities.