Zincton Mountain Resort would be built along the slopes of Whitewater Mountain near New Denver. The road shown south of the tenure is Highway 31A between New Denver and Kaslo. Photo: Brent Harley and Associates

Zincton Mountain Resort would be built along the slopes of Whitewater Mountain near New Denver. The road shown south of the tenure is Highway 31A between New Denver and Kaslo. Photo: Brent Harley and Associates

Zincton gets go-ahead for next stage of resort planning

The location is pitched for near New Denver

By John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative, Valley Voice

The proposal to build a year-round ski, hiking and mountain biking resort east of New Denver is moving to the next stage of the application process.

The proponents of the Zincton resort project have been told by the B.C. government’s Mountain Resorts Branch they can begin work on a formal proposal document to detail the project’s scope and impacts on the environment.

“We appreciate recognition of our industry-leading approach to net-positive impact,” said David Harley, the lead investor in the Zincton Lift Company. He added regulators recognized “…our commitment to divert 1 per cent of ski revenue to assist in remediating the 120-year-old Retallack mining district, our partnership with Silversmith Power and Light to deliver ‘certified green’ climate-neutral electricity, and our forward-thinking village planning.”

The Zincton resort proposal would see a 30-hectare ski village built just off Highway 31A east of New Denver, and development of lift-serviced access into thousands of hectares of alpine backcountry.

Last May, the public had a chance to weigh in on the proposal. The government’s Mountain Resorts Branch received over 3,000 comments for and against the project, prompting tweaking of the resort plans.

“Based on the feedback received from the agencies, First Nations, stakeholders and public during the referral and comment period, the province considers the Zincton proposal to be a feasible concept and has invited the proponent to advance to the next stage of the process and submit a formal proposal,” a spokesperson for the Mountain Resorts Branch said.

The Zincton Lift Company, as Harley’s group is called, will now work on the formal proposal – addressing the concerns received through the public comment and review process, studying the site’s environmental, physical, social, and economic realities, and advancing and refining the preliminary concept to reflect those studies.

“The Zincton project currently includes 18 different consultants and planners across all fields to ensure we accomplish our goal of pushing forward ‘high elevation, high latitude’ ultra-low-impact village standards – combined with an optimal blend of endless backcountry powder lines, lots of lift-serviced runs, ski-in/ski-out residential opportunities, and outstanding owner/operator amenities in the village,” Harley said.

The work to be done includes an environmental inventory, identification of potential impacts, potential mitigation strategies and associated best practices. They also have to describe their efforts to engage and build relationships with impacted First Nations, including how they will address issues raised by them.

The scope of this work is now being finalized by the provincial government.

The formal proposal (and, if successful, the subsequent master planning stage) will see more details on the resort’s ski lift plans, staging and support facilities, parking and accommodations (including a backcountry lodge). They’ll also flesh out construction plans, with emphasis on the first phase of work.

When the provincial government receives the formal proposal, it will co-ordinate a provincial inter-agency, First Nations and local government review as outlined in the All-Seasons Resort Policy (ASRP). And there will be chance for more public comment.

“The all-season resort development planning process is characterized by complex planning requirements and understanding of various environmental, socioeconomic and market conditions,” the government spokesperson said. “The ASRP provides for a comprehensive, progressive, multi-stage resort development planning process whereby each stage informs requirements before proceeding to a subsequent stage.

“At each stage of the planning process, including a formal proposal, there is an opportunity for public review and comment.”

The three stages of the process are: expression of interest, formal proposal, and master plan.

There’s no set deadline as to when the Zincton Lift Company’s formal proposal will be delivered to government regulators.