Valemount resort complimentary, not competition, says proponent
A multi-million sightseeing and ski resort in Valemount would help attract visitors to the North Rockies, including Marmot Basin, says the resort’s proponent. Tommaso Oberti of Valemount Glacier Destinations (VGD) believes that the proposed 2,000-bed, 20,000-acre year-round ski resort in the Cariboo Mountains will benefit the region as a whole, rather than take tourists away from Jasper. “Our opinion is you need critical mass to attract international skiers,” Oberti said. “Marmot is great, but you’re not going to attract skiers looking at the Whistlers, the Zurmatts, or the Aspens because of the relatively modest infrastructure there. All of a sudden you have Valemount and it becomes more interesting because you’ve got multiple ski destinations in one area.” Oberti made the remarks a week after the project’s first government-mandated input session, a public house in Valemount on November 4. At that meeting, approximately 200 residents showed up to learn about the project’s master plan. In July, Oberti told The Jasper Local the project was on track to have chairlifts spinning by Christmas, 2016. He’s since revised the timeline, suggesting a grand opening on Canada Day, 2017. “What we’re planning right now is opening for Canada’s 150th anniversary with summer skiing, which we think is pretty unique for a ski area,” he said. What’s also unique is the proposed resort’s village: situated 10 km from town, it will be pedestrian only, have a low environmental impact and, at 1,300 m, will be one of the highest bases in British Columbia. Oberti suggested the higher base will insulate the resort against the effects of climate change. “Over time, it’s likely that Valemount will be one of the only places that gets reliable snow,” he said (sidenote: Marmot Basin’s base elevation is the highest in Canada at 1,658 m). Build-out of Phase One, which will include two hotels, single family residences and staff accommodations—as well as the five lifts, day lodge and mountain top restaurant which will be part of the 2017 grand opening—will take up to five years, Oberti said. Upon build-out of Phase Three, according to the plan’s social economic analysis, more than 500 full and part-time jobs will have been injected into the community. Oberti projects those developments for 30 years from now. “We’re trying to make it clear that this project isn’t an overnight boom,” Oberti said. He does anticipate interest to skyrocket over the coming months, however. The excitement at the Edmonton Ski Show, he said, was electric. “The enthusiasm was unbelievable,” he said.