Sun Peaks wants to add to its family of chairlifts

Sun Peaks wants to add to its family of chairlifts

Sun Peaks eyes new chairlift

Sun Peaks Resort has applied to locate a new chairlift on the mountain

Cam Fortems

KTW

Sun Peaks Resort has applied to locate a new chairlift on the mountain, part of its project to add 250 hectares of new ski terrain this winter.

But, that expansion plan is being opposed by the Neskonlith Indian Band.

The resort announced in the spring it would add new terrain to West Morrisey and the Gil’s areas.

With the addition, Sun Peaks will lay claim to the second-largest skiable terrain in Canada, behind Whistler-Blackcomb and tied with Lake Louise.

In August, it applied for provincial approval to locate a chairlift in the Gil’s area.

Sun Peaks general manager Darcy Alexander said the mountain does not have immediate plans to build the new lift.

The application is typically done several years before  the project starts.

However, work is well underway to create new terrain, which is expected to be ready for this ski season.

Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson said the band heard about the expansion in the spring through news stories.

She said the band was never consulted, despite prevailing law.

“We’re opposed,” she said.

“We’re organized, not only to respond, but to stand up for our title and rights.”

The band’s hand was strengthened by a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that gives what experts say is rights more powerful than fee simple and removes the requirement to prove traditional use on every piece of land.

“We have concerns about the expansion and concerns about not being consulted and the lack of environmental assessment,” Wilson said.

Alexander said Sun Peaks  deals directly with the province and expects it to deal with First Nations rights as part of the approval process.

“That’s government’s responsibility,” he said.

“We apply to them and they do the consultation. My understanding is . . . government has done the consultation.”

Alexander said the province approved the lift for the West Morrisey area several years ago.

“They’re on a competing timeline [for construction],” he said. “One will go just before the other.”

The forecast is between three and five years for the first lift.

The Gil’s lift will be about the same length as the existing Crystal Chair, with either triple or quad seating.

Logging is underway at both expansion sites.

While Alexander said terrain will be ready for this ski season, work will take several years to ensure matters such as erosion control are complete.