All-season resort plan near Hope still viable

Barrick Gold Corporation continues to collect data at former Giant Mascot nickel mine property

Barrick Gold Corporation’s preliminary analysis is showing that an all-season resort is a feasible project for the former Giant Mascot nickel mine.

The company is currently looking for an alternative use for the land, which is no longer providing economic benefit to the Hope area.

The company owns surface rights to about 168 hectares of land straddling Highway 1 west of the Fraser River near Klahater Lake, as well as an additional 293 hectares on Zofka Ridge south of Stulkawhits (Texas) Creek. It also has mining rights to 4,856 hectares of land on the mountain.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” said McKay Edwards, an independent consultant hired by Barrick to conduct the preliminary analysis.

“We’re doing the baseline environmental work and research. It is a complex project because it involves a large area and a variety of environmental zones. We haven’t encountered what we believe to be showstoppers or red flags yet.”

Biologists visited the property in the spring and fall of 2012 to gather data on vegetation and water features, information that would be included in an environmental assessment if the project moves forward. Edwards said snow measurements continue to be encouraging.

“The project is still very much alive and it has good support from Barrick,” he said.

“They need time to consider the different decision points because their main business is gold mining. They’re not in resort development anywhere in the world and this is the only place they’re investigating it. Since it’s not their top priority, it tends to slow things down.”

The conceptual plan for the lower parcel of land includes lodging, restaurants, and resort housing. Edwards said the emphasis would be on summer recreation and feature boating, fishing, and hiking. Barrick is considering a gondola to transport visitors from a parking lot off Highway 1 to the ski facility on the upper parcel, similar to Grouse Mountain. Edwards said this would help reduce the resort’s carbon footprint since vehicles would not be travelling up the mountain.

Tyler Mattheis, executive director of AdvantageHOPE, believes the proposed nickel mine redevelopment project is an exciting prospect for Hope.

“It’s progress holds the promise of great opportunity, and reinforces the need for a robust local brand and coordination within our community,” he said. “Over the last year, AdvantageHOPE has worked to keep McKay connected with interested local entrepreneurs who may be able to capitalize on this opportunity, as well as to keep McKay advised of local tourism initiatives and partnerships that could both assist and stand to gain from this projects’ progress and eventual success.”

Barrick will continue to engage with residents and elicit feedback from stakeholders as plans for the all-season resort progress. Edwards said the company will likely be in a position to start making formal applications to the province and the regional district for permits in 2013, as well as taking the first steps in the environment assessment and resort approval processes.

“From Barrick’s point of view, a big part of their decision to go forward or not will be community support,” said Edwards. “They would want this to be positive development.”

Anyone with questions or comments about the proposed all-season resort project can contact Edwards at mckayedwards@gmail.com.