UPDATED: Crystal Mountain the focus of big plans and grassroot efforts - InfoNews

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UPDATED: Crystal Mountain the focus of big plans and grassroot efforts

Plans for Crystal Resort call for big lifts and a major real estate development.
Image Credit: From/crystalresort.ca
August 10, 2019 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - While Don Journeay is getting grassroots support for reopening Crystal Mountain on a small scale, a development company looking to one day offer real estate in the area has something bigger in mind.

Pheidias is a company that has a development agreement with the province that requires a certain amount of skiers using the hill before it gets the right to market real-estate at the mountain.

“Our focus is on the bigger project," Tom Oberti said on behalf of the Pheidias Management Corporation “The first step, of course, is re-opening. Whether it opens with the T-bar this winter and next winter has the triple chair, the double chair won’t re-open, because that’s where the accident happened and it’s a very tired lift. When the investment comes, that (double lift) will be replaced."

It will be replaced with a longer lift so it will go higher up the mountain so, incrementally, the ski area itself will expand.

"Once that happens, we have an agreement with the province that, as you expand the capacity of the mountain, you get the right to develop a certain number of bed units," he said.

That doesn’t tie in with what Journeay is trying to do, which is a grassroots effort to get part of the hill operating this winter.

Journeay intends to open a couple of T-bars were published by iNFOnews.ca on July 25. He told iNFOnews.ca that he has no connection to Pheidias and doesn’t know what their plans are or what agreement they have with the province.

He just wants to get people skiing this winter. He’s even launched a GoFundMe competition with his partner Jenny Giesbrecht to determine what the hill should be called. It’s actually Last Mountain on the map but has been referred to as Bull Mountain (a West Kelowna snowboard maker) after Journeay started caretaking it a couple of years ago. For a few years, it was called Crystal Mountain.

It was closed in 2014 after a serious accident involving one of the ski lifts.

While Journeay has a lease to use the hill,

Pheidias started negotiating a master plan with the province in 1998, Oberti said. That took until 2006 to complete. The plan allows them to develop up to 3,001 “bed units," depending on how many skiers use the hill. Under that measurement, a chalet may have six bed units while there might be two in each room of a proposed hotel.

Oberti didn’t get into specifics about how many skiers are needed each year but did say it will likely take 20 years to fully develop the hill. The crystalresort.ca web site predicts 75,000 ski visits in the first year and increasing to 250,000 after 20 years. That compares to about 650,000 for Big White, the web site says.

If his company goes ahead with plans to open one lift next winter, it’s unclear where that will leave Journeay and his smaller scale ski hill.

According to the master plan, the total area of the project is listed at 2,900 hectares.

It won’t compare to hills like Big White or Silver Star in terms of vertical drop and difficulty of the terrain. It will be more of a family-friendly, learning mountain, Oberti said.

Pheidias helped develop Kicking Horse Mountain near Golden and has been involved in the ongoing efforts to build the Jumbo Glacier resort in southeast B.C. That suffered a significant court setback earlier this week when it was ruled that it needs a new environmental assessment.

“Zoning for the opening of the ski area is already in place and zoning for the first phase of the real estate development is substantially ready for application,” states the crystalresort.ca web site.

But, Oberti said, the zoning only went to third reading with the regional district around 2010 but no further because that required $3 million in “gifting charges.” After a couple of extensions, the regional district dropped the application a few years later. That means a new rezoning application will be needed.

The regional district has no active files on the project, Jodie Foster manager of corporate communications for the regional district, told iNFOnews.ca, but the developer has been in touch with the planning department to find out what needs to be done on that front.

Oberti said the previous owners were still involved but there were also other investors who he refused to name. The 2006 master plan lists the owners as David Tschanz, of Switzerland, and his son Winston.

- Updated Aug. 12, 2019 to add in Bull and Last mountain GoFundMe links.

 

 


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