Project rendering of the building at the planned summit of the Cascade Skyline gondola project proposed for a location east of Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Project rendering of the building at the planned summit of the Cascade Skyline gondola project proposed for a location east of Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Chilliwack gondola project has support from Indigenous groups and local politicians

Competing ski resort proponents admit they don’t even know where the Chilliwack River Valley is

After years of looking around for the perfect location for British Columbia’s second sightseeing gondola, Jayson Faulkner found a near perfect spot in the ridges above the Fraser Valley just east of Chilliwack.

And Faulkner’s first move was to knock on the door of the Cheam First Nation.

“I told them ‘I have this idea. If you like it then I want you on board. If not, I’ll leave and you’ll never see me again.’”

Cheam chief at the time, Ernie Crey, liked it. Current Cheam leadership similarly likes the project and they are on board as equity partners.

But as the team slowly moved forward ticking the boxes government required them to, they were blindsided by an ambitious ski resort proposal – the Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) – in an area that overlaps where the gondola is planned.

READ MORE: Ambitious all-season mountain resort proposed near Chilliwack

Now they are in what Faulkner describes as a “beauty contest” being judged by the provincial government.

But it’s an apples and oranges comparison. The Cascade Skyline gondola has been in the works for five years. It not only has the involvement of the local First Nation who have used the territory for thousands of years, but Cascade Skyline has the support of the two local MLAs, MP Mark Strahl, the Fraser Valley Regional District, the mayors of Chilliwack and the District of Kent, Tourism Chilliwack, CEPCO and on and on.

“This ‘beauty contest’ has been a really frustrating process we were put into by the province and frankly it is very hard to understand what their reasons are,” Faulkner told The Progress. “Bigger is definitely not better.”

READ MORE: Gondola idea to Bridal Falls overlooking Chilliwack goes under the microscope

The Cascade Skyline project would lift guests from the base at Bridal Falls Golf Course 1,250 metres up to the ridges on the mountains above. From there, guests will have a variety of walking and hiking options from difficult to moderate to wheelchair accessible. The most ambitious could wander widely into the mountains while others could just enjoy the ride up and down.

“The terrain provides exceptional opportunities for non-motorized activities including walking, hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, paragliding, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing,” Faulkner says.

Faulkner has a long history in the B.C. recreation industry working at Whistler for years and as one of those involved in the only existing sightseeing gondola in B.C., the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.

A Sto:lo cultural interpretive centre at the base is planned to provide cultural education about the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe Society and Popkum band.

”As an equity owner and partner in this project, we believe this project will bring long-term and sustainable benefits not only to our community and membership but also to the surrounding community in S’ólh Téméxw,” according to Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor.

Faulker said that with Cheam as fully invested partners, and hopefully with other Sto:lo members, there will be an opportunity to restore and renew the traditional and cultural uses of this area where they were forced out or where logging and motorized recreational use diminished their access.

“It has been a founding principle of our project, that we respect the lands upon which it is being built and if we do it right, we could be a new and unique model that actually has a net improvement on the lands upon which it would sit,” Faulkner said.

“Our goal as an eco-tourism, cultural tourism project, is to restore and renew the badly impacted lands that comprise the Chipmunk Creek drainage from decades of heavily clearcut logging activity and the severe impacts from unregulated motorized use.”

It was the Cheam that reached out to the media with “shock” when they learned of the BVMR project.

Victor said the environmental footprint of the Cascade Skyline Gondola Project would be minuscule compared to a ski resort requiring roads to access villages, land to build multiple ski lifts and runs, and high water use to accommodate snowmaking machinery.

And while the Cascade Skyline gondola project has the support of all levels of government and the support of Chilliwack River Valley residents and other outdoor clubs, some have criticized the BVMR team for being outsiders not even familiar with the community.

During an online information meeting on May 19, for example, the leaders of the project were asked what if any impact the ski resort would have on the Chilliwack River Valley.

“I’m not sure where the Chilliwack River Valley exactly is,” BVMR co-founder Robert Wilson said before deferring to Whistler-based consultant Brent Harley who is working on the project.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know the definition of the Chilliwack River Valley,” Harley said.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

skiingTourism

 

(Submitted)

Just Posted

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. (ADOBE STOCK IMAGE)
Shining a light on brain injury in Canada

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

submitted
City of Mission hosting a virtual and in-person open house to explore Silverdale plan

It’s the first neighbourhood planning area of the larger Silverdale Comprehensive Planning Area

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read