Plans submitted to the Ministry of Forests show an aerial view of the Christian Valley, where adventure tourism company Powder Renegade Lodge hopes to build a cat-ski operation. Photo: Powder Renegade Lodge, Inc.

Plans submitted to the Ministry of Forests show an aerial view of the Christian Valley, where adventure tourism company Powder Renegade Lodge hopes to build a cat-ski operation. Photo: Powder Renegade Lodge, Inc.

Advisory bodies weigh in on proposed Christian Valley cat-ski operation

Prospective operator, Powder Renegade Lodge, said backcountry ski infrastructure already in place

Two Advisory Planning Commissions (APC) across the Boundary expressed concerns this week about a cat-ski operation proposed for a section of Christian Valley bordering the Granby Provincial Park. Powder Renegade Lodge (PRL), a Kelowna-based backcountry ski company, is awaiting a decision by British Columbia’s forest ministry that will decide if the project goes ahead.

RELATED: Province reviewing cat-ski lodge proposed for southern Monashees

The APC for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s (RDKB) Area E, which advises the district on policy matters covering Greenwood and Midway in the southeast to Big White in the northwest, recommended on Monday, Jan. 4, that the RDKB not support PRL’s referral. The APC for rural Grand Forks’ Area D voted on Tuesday, Jan. 5, to defer a recommendation until PRL could present its tenure management plan.

Minutes taken at the Area E meeting cite a number of environmental concerns raised by board members. In particular, the APC claimed that PRL’s tenure management plan doesn’t clearly outline the proposed lodge’s sewage drainage; that its plan provides no buffer for threatened wildlife habitat in neighbouring Granby Park; and that noise from the lodge’s helicopter shuttle would disrupt area wildlife. The board also said area residents weren’t adequately notified of PRL’s intentions, advertised in The Boundary Creek Times and The Grand Forks Gazette starting in late November.

Representatives of the Boundary Alliance, an ad hoc group of concerned residents in the region, and the Boundary Forest Watershed Stewardship Society, a standing body that advocates for sustainable logging practices along Boundary waterways, told board members that any development near Granby Provincial Park would gravely threaten area Grizzly bears and wolverines.

PRL owner Kerry Penney said in an interview on Wednesday, Jan. 6, that the company has applied for tenure over existing infrastructure, outside of Granby Provincial Park, put in place for a now defunct heli-skiing operation. Accounts suggesting that PRL would operate any kind of a “ski hill” are grossly misleading, he said.

“There’s no ski hill being built. There’s no infrastructure going in to take people up and down the mountain. There’s no chairlift — nothing like that.”

Penney said PRL intends to use existing logging roads complemented by around 10 kilometres of unpaved snow-trails for the company’s tracked caterpillar, or “snow cat.” The company’s tenure management plan plainly envisions a modest timber frame lodge serviced by a septic field, he noted. Wife and business partner Cassandra Penney later qualified that the lodge would probably span around 4,000 square feet, including 24 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.

“At the end of the day, we’re only going to be working with what’s already there,” he said, adding that proposed ski runs would be too densely treed to accommodate snowmobile traffic. PRL has no plans to extend its operation beyond backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Kerry said PRL had obtained “a desktop” environmental assessment by a certified biologist with extensive knowledge of the area. The assessment was based on recent field studies based on current forest ministry data used to calculate area wildlife populations and migration patterns. PRL’s “low impact” operation would not harm Grizzly bears, he said, because the company would only bring in small groups during the bears’ winter hibernation.

“We’re not going to bring 100 people up there in a day. We’re not even bringing 35 people in a day. We’d be looking at bringing in 24 people a day when we’re maxed out in five years and we’ll have a second cat operating.” Tour guides would avoid any areas where wildlife was spotted for 24 hours, as per PRL’s wildlife mitigation plan, he said.

The ministry is considering public comments submitted to the Crown Land Applications’ website until Jan. 14.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

no driving of snow cats on cut blocks

-10.7 of excavated roads, none of them continuous, none connecting to FSRs

-12 separate roads

-separeate a frame for staff

-6 to 8 bedrooms; bunk beds 12 to 17 staff

-no square footage

-in principle 20’ by 20’

-maintaining the natural landscape as much as possible to max snow pack stability

-exception to the MVCA is that snow mobiles exempted from Nov. to april

-part of the Motor Vehicle Act

-included in the proposal

-snowcat can be considered a snowmobile becasue it’s sufficiently similar

EnvironmentGrand ForksKelownaskiingTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Les Cleverly, formerly of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, is suing the city as well as current and former city firefighters over alleged workplace bullying and defamation. File photo.
Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

Grand Forks RCMP and Grand Forks Fire/Rescue near the scene of a motor vehicle accident Thursday evening, Jan. 21, in the vicinity of Highway 3 near the intersection of Danshin Village Road. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
First responders returning from Highway 3 crash West of Grand Forks

It is not known how many people were involved in the accident

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

The bill was discussed at Grand Forks Social Services Advisory Group’s last meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks City Hall spends around $6,000 on recent Moto clean up

The city’s bill came up for discussion at the Social Services Advisory Group on Wednesday, Jan. 20

From the left, Midway RCMP seized suspected cannabis, cocaine and fentanyl from a truck pulled over by Conservation Service Officers in the West Boundary Monday, Jan. 17. Photo submitted
Midway RCMP find suspected drugs in traffic stop by Conservation Service Officers

Cpl. Phil Peters said the CSOs were stopping local hunters on Highway 33

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read