The B.C. government has approved a master development plan for a new year-round ski resort in the Cariboo Mountains west of Valemount.
Valemount Glacier Destination Resort is a $175 million project led by Oberto Oberti, who designed the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden and the controversial Jumbo Glacier Resort proposal west of Invermere.
The Valemount plan includes lifts and gondolas that would carry skiers and sight-seers to the summits of Mount Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Mount Arthur Meighen. Its vertical drop of 2,050 metres would be higher than Whistler-Blackcomb and the largest in North America.
"There are very few places in the world, and none in North America, where you go and ride a lift to the very top and the glacier is below you," said Jill Bodkin, a director of the company.
Valemount is a remote community of about 1,000 residents near the Alberta border east of Prince George. The region is west of Jasper National Park, which attracts visitors from around the world.
On the project's website, Oberti says people will travel to Switzerland for this kind of mountain resort experience, so a three-hour drive from Prince George isn't an obstacle to success.
Valemount Mayor Jeanette Townsend called the master plan approval "exciting news." She said the community attracts visitors who stay there to avoid the expensive accommodation in Jasper and the resort will take it to the next level.
Chief Nathan Matthew of the Simpcw First Nation said his community has been involved since the beginning, and he sees the project as an important economic development for the northern part of Simpcw's traditional territory.