Cheam meadows trail near Mt. Cheam by Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Cheam meadows trail near Mt. Cheam by Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Cheam First Nation ‘shocked’ over all-season mountain resort proposal near Chilliwack

For five years the band has been working on a gondola project of their own

Not everyone is applauding the proposed Bridal Veil Mountain Resort announced earlier this week.

The Cheam First Nation said they oppose the 11,500-acre project now, and stood against a similar proposal in the past.

Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor said a large industrial ski resort on traditional Cheam territory was pitched under the name Resorts West in 2003, and was soundly rejected.

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

“Cheam First Nation has only recently been made aware of the revival of this project proposal,” Victor said. “We have not yet had a chance to be included in their process, despite its potential impacts on our traditional territory and land.”

Victor said the Cheam First Nation has spent the last five years developing their own plan. Drawing inspiration from the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, the Cascade Skyline Gondola project is an eco and cultural tourism venture that would include an eight-passenger gondola taking visitors 1,200 metres up to a mountain peak to enjoy dining, theatre and panoramic views.

Rendering of Summit Lodge as part of a proposed Cascade Skyline Gondola project put forth by the Cheam First Nation. (Submitted)

Rendering of Summit Lodge as part of a proposed Cascade Skyline Gondola project put forth by the Cheam First Nation. (Submitted)

“It is fundamentally a ‘celebration of nature and natural spaces’ with non-motorized activities for a range of abilities and interests,” Victor said. “At the summit, guests will be able to enjoy a variety of low-impact, nature-based activities including sight-seeing, hiking, cultural tours, paragliding in summer and snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country and backcountry skiing in winter.”

Victor said their project has been under the microscope for the last five years through studies and stakeholder consultation. Cheam First National has been working with BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) under the ‘Adventure Tourism’ process.

“We are invested partners in this project and have widespread support from the City of Chilliwack, Tourism Chilliwack, Tourism Industry Association of B.C., Chilliwack Economic Partnership Corporation (CEPCO), mayor and council of the District of Kent, and many other business leaders and community leaders,” he noted. “We are shocked that a competing proposal, on our traditional territory and lands, would be considered by any jurisdiction given the past record of failures and controversies of its proponents, and their lack of respect for our own project on our own lands.”

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.

The cultural tourism part of the Cascade Skyline Gondola Project would involved a Stó:lō cultural interpretive centre with programming on First Nations on history and culture.

“Our project is not just about economic sovereignty for our community,” Victor said. “It revives cultural knowledge, supports cross-cultural education, creates employment within the First Nation community, connects our people to the land and is a major contributor to reconciliation.”

For more info, visit cascadeskyline.com.


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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Map of the layout of the gondola project proposed by the Cheam First Nation near Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Map of the layout of the gondola project proposed by the Cheam First Nation near Chilliwack. (Submitted)