Every day when Don Journeay wakes up, he faces a literal mountain of work.
Crystal Mountain Resort, a short drive from West Kelowna, is both the place he and his family call home and the gargantuan fixer-upper they took on a year ago.
After a 2014 chairlift accident, the 30-run resort was abandoned and it fell into ruin in the years that followed.
Journeay started taking care of it three years ago in January, and this year he took a serious step toward bringing it back to life under the name Bull Mountain Adventure Park.
“When I went there the place was slated for demolition by the province, and I said ‘what if I come on board and fix things and make it less of a danger to the public’,” he said.
“It was a nuisance for the government at that time. People were going through it on a daily basis and the vandalism was extensive.”
Journeay, a carpenter, started subleasing the space from the leaseholder, Crystal Mountain Resort, with the approval of the province. His aim was simply to bring skiers and life back to a once loved corner of his community.
It’s a tall order. Initially, he thought it could be open for business by this December, with countless hours of work behind him he suspects that it will be late January at best — but, also possible, next season.
“People come up and say ‘wow you’ve done so much’ and it’s great to hear,” he said, adding that he often sees more work than progress.
“Then again, when you are on a project you don’t see how much progress you are making. You just see what you need to do.”
That said, it’s coming along nicely.
“We’re just moving ahead, slowly but surely,” Journey said.
“It’s been a lot of work — I have about 10 people who help us out continually — and we are getting infrastructure done.”
That means that the plumbing, interior and exterior work for the lodge is well underway. They’ve also made a lot of headway getting the lift runs cleared up for use.
“There are a lot of variables to (consider) before opening this year.”
There’s the snow, the work, the permits and approvals, just to name a few major factors he has to consider while still going out and earning a living at his day job.
“It’s a lot of work — I am a carpenter and contractor so I’m doing a lot myself,” he said.
“So many things are happening. I always think this would be a great little documentary on how it goes, every day there’s something new.”
One of the things that may see change unfold more quickly is an investor that is waiting in the wings.
Also, discussion about housing developments continues to percolate in the background, though Journeay is more focused on the skiing side of things.
“Eventually, no matter what, development will happen with houses or condos on and around,” he said. “Where I’m starting from is building up and making the mountain bigger and better and where it goes from there is probably a resort.”
By that time, he said with a laugh, he’ll be ready to move to Mexico and open a resort.
In the meantime, the community is still welcome to go up and see what’s happening, particularly on Sunday when they have an equipment sell-off.
“We have some of the old rental equipment and starting at 10 a.m. and going until 5 p.m. If people want to buy some of the equipment they can. Any money will go back to the resort,” he said.
They also made an outdoor rink up there, so if people have some skates and want to bring along their hot chocolate and a snack they are welcome to go.
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