Major All-Season Mountain Resort Proposed for Chilliwack
Bridal Veil Mountain Resort could spur exponential growth for Fraser Valley tourism sector
CHILLIWACK, B.C. (April 13, 2021) – A new major all-season mountain resort with two sightseeing gondolas and approximately 11,500 acres of mountain recreation terrain has been proposed for Chilliwack through an Expression of Interest filed recently with the Mountain Resorts Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development. In addition to providing year-round recreation opportunities for Fraser Valley residents, British Columbians and destination tourists, the resort would strengthen B.C.’s already strong international reputation in the mountain resort market, elevate the region as a tourist destination, and become a major new, year-round economic and tourism driver for the Province.
Currently called Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR), the project is being led by B.C. residents Norm Gaukel and Robert Wilson, with the support of Whistler-based Brent Harley and Associates (BHA), one of the world’s most experienced and respected mountain resort planning and design firms. If approved, the resort would be located in the Upper Fraser Valley, on the highlands immediately south of the Fraser River, extending over Area D and Area E of the Fraser Valley Regional District and the City of Chilliwack.
Recognizing that the proposed site is in S’ólh Téméxw, the traditional and unceded lands of the Stó:lō people since time immemorial, the goal of Gaukel and Wilson is to first work closely with local Stó:lō Communities and business organizations to explore opportunities for joint equity ownership and management, as well as development options and opportunities. To that end, the project proponent has initiated a broad Stó:lō consultation process aimed at having collaborative and meaningful discussions with Stó:lō Communities.
“We strongly believe that any project undertaken on Stó:lō land must involve the Stó:lō in whatever capacity they deem appropriate,” said Gaukel. “We see Stó:lō ownership and meaningful participation as key foundations for this project and believe their business expertise and Indigenous perspectives would contribute greatly to the success of the project. Additionally, we recognize that the Stó:lō have used and protected these lands for thousands of years and no one understands them better. If this project proceeds, every decision we make together would honour that Stó:lō commitment to environmental responsibility and land stewardship protection.”
“We would look forward to incorporating local First Nations traditional, cultural, and land stewardship values, developed in partnership with local Indigenous communities,” added Wilson. “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.”
A preliminary economic impact analysis conducted by Boulder-based RRC Associates suggests that, at full build-out, as currently envisioned, BVMR would create more than 1,800 full-time equivalent jobs and generate more than one million visits each year (640,000 winter, 460,000 summer). Based on that visitation, BVMR is projected to generate approximately $252 million in regional visitor spending and $35 million in tax revenue each year. Those figures are based on industry averages for Canadian mountain resorts of similar size and activity. These estimates also do not yet account for any changes to the proposed design of the resort that would occur through the meaningful participation of Stó:lō Communities and business organizations and their potential joint equity ownership and management of BVMR.
Upon arriving at the resort, the preliminary concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort will see guests travelling by gondola from the floor of the Fraser Valley to a vehicle-free, mountain recreation area, where they could ski or snowboard, backcountry tour, hike, sightsee, mountain bike, and participate in year-round ecological and Indigenous cultural programs. These activities will effectively be separated and hidden from the valley, offering guests a remote mountain recreation experience with unparalleled views of the Fraser Valley and Cascade Mountain Range.
In the winter, BVMR would provide a well-balanced and integrated lift-serviced skiing experience with ski runs catering to the full spectrum of skiers, from beginners to experts. While detailed winter climate studies remain to be completed, records show that natural snowfall is significant and temperatures are suitable for snowmaking, thus enabling a ski season that could extend from December to April, serving an undersubscribed and growing skier marketplace in the Fraser Valley. The alpine skiing and snowboarding would be complemented with access to backcountry touring, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating.
For the rapidly growing mountain resort summer market, BVMR could offer numerous hiking trails, viewpoints, and cross-country and lift-serviced downhill mountain bike trails. Its near limitless potential could also include aerial adventure courses, zip lines, as well as hosting events, competitions, races, festivals, and cultural tourism venues and celebrations. In addition to capturing the “day-tripper market” of people visiting its two sightseeing gondolas, each year the resort could also attract hundreds of thousands of additional visitors looking for multi-day experiences.
With direct easy access from the TransCanada Highway and its proximity to two international airports and several Canada-US border crossings, the resort would also attract significant interest from international guests in all-season capacity.
While a comprehensive economic impact analysis of the potential project has not yet been completed, it’s expected the resort would have significant positive economic impacts on the Chilliwack area and British Columbia. In addition to creating thousands of new full-time jobs during its phased multi-year construction and then operation, the resort would also provide indirect economic impacts through local spending, and municipal and Provincial tax revenues.
“Through the meaningful participation of the Stó:lō and the full integration of their cultural, traditional and land stewardship values, 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, 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 B.C.’s largest mountain resorts while adding to the strength and reputation of the province’s tourism industry.”
The Expression of Interest phase represents the first of three stages in the Province’s all-season resort development application process. If the EOI is approved, the next phase would be the submission of a more detailed Formal Proposal, followed by the submission of a comprehensive Resort Master Plan. Throughout this process, the concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort will continue to be revised and refined with input from Stó:lō Communities, local government, stakeholders, the public, and the Mountain Resorts Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The BVMR Expression of Interest is available on the project website.
About Bridal Veil Mountain Resort
BVMR is an all-season mountain resort proposed for Chilliwack, 100 km east of Vancouver. Led by B.C. residents Norm Gaukel and Robert Wilson and designed by Brent Harley and Associates, the project would be located in in S’ólh Téméxw, the traditional and unceded lands of the Stó:lō people. The project is currently in the Expression of Interest stage of British Columbia’s all-season resort development application process. For more information, visit bridalveilmountainresort.ca.
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