British Columbia Ski Area Planning to Expand Skiable Terrain by 750% with Multi-Billion-Dollar Expansion Project

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Skiers ride up the chair at Sasquatch Mountain Resort, BC, which has unveiled plans to massively expand its skiable terrain over the next 15-20 years. | Photo: Indy Pass

A small British Columbia ski area doesn’t want to be small anymore. Sasquatch Mountain Resort, formerly known as Hemlock Resort and located in the Fraser Valley near the town of Agassiz (2.5 hours away from Vancouver), is planning a massive multi-billion-dollar expansion project that would grow its 362 acres of skiable terrain into 3,104 acres—a 756.95% percent increase. Once its Master Plan is complete, Sasquatch Mountain will consist of 23 ski lifts servicing 283 formal trails plus glades; an increase of 19 ski lifts and 248 ski trails from what is currently there.

Sasquatch Mountain shared its vision in its Master Plan drafted in 2014:

“To be a unique cutting edge, four season mountain resort, catering to local, regional and destination guests, in a dynamic fashion, offering an easily accessible refuge and escape from the City.”

Sasquatch Mountain Resort, BC. | Photo: Sasquatch Mountain Resort

Estimated to cost upwards of $2.5 billion over the next 15 to 20 years, the Fraser Valley Regional District approved an official community plan for the Hemlock Valley area in 2022, which includes Sasquatch Mountain Resort. Since then the resort has begun its development phase with plans to be a year-round resort that can provide hiking, biking, skiing, and golfing, along with an array of new condos, hotels, restaurants, and much more. Listed below are some of those intentions, shared directly from Sasquatch’s Master Plan.

Winter Mountain Developments

  • Establish Sasquatch Mountain as an all-season resort
  • Ensure that all winter facility development is completed in an environmentally sensitive fashion
  • Develop an alpine skiing and snowboard environment that establishes a unique and distinctive character, and is all about ‘mountain play’
  • Creatively expand the ski lift and trail configuration at Sasquatch Mountain
  • Establishing and maintaining a balanced offering that anticipates evolving market trends, reflects skier expectations and market composition
  • Incorporate a variety of new facilities and amenities designed to diversify the range of winter activities at Sasquatch Mountain
A digital rendering of Sasquatch Mountain’s expanded terrain. | Photo: Sasquatch Mountain Resort

At full buildout of the Master Plan, Sasquatch Mountain will consist of 23 ski lifts servicing 283 formal trails plus glades. This is an increase of 19 ski lifts and 248 ski trails from what is currently there. The addition of approximately 2,738.86 acres of developed ski terrain will bring Sasquatch Mountain’s total developed ski terrain to 3,104.18 acres. The Master Plan includes a wide variety of winter activities. The objective will be to gradually add more to the winter offerings. These include the establishment of:

  • Expanded facilities for cross-country skiing, backcountry touring, winter play, ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, etc.
  • Winter zip-lining and treetop adventures
  • An extensive multi-use network of trails throughout the resort including:
    • A lighted “valley trail” system that links all areas of Sasquatch Mountain, designed to cater to walking, snow running and track-set cross-country skiing, “pouch-loop” skiing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, etc.
    • Smaller, single-track trails for hiking, dog walking, snowshoeing, backcountry touring, winter mountain biking, running and training, etc.
    • Snowmobile trails leading away from the resort and connecting to regional trails, outside of the Controlled Recreation Area
    • Snowmobile staging facilities including drop-off areas, storage, gas, and maintenance
    • Village-oriented winter attractions (water park, health and wellness spas, conference centre, shopping, dining, galleries, programmed events, concerts, celebrations, and hotel escapes, etc)

This is what Sasquatch’s winter trail map looks like right now: 

Photo: Sasquatch Mountain Resort

And this is what the resort would look like after its expansion: 

Photo: Sasquatch Mountain Resort

Summer Developments and More

“With the beautiful mountain setting, the skiing facilities, the development of on-mountain villages, and the lakeside development on Harrison Lake, it is apparent that the Sasquatch Mountain area is very well suited to the development of summer facilities, amenities, and operational programs.” – Sasquatch Mountain Resort

As such, the primary development goals for the mountain, as they relate to summer facilities are to:

  • Establish Sasquatch Mountain as an all-season resort
  • Establish facilities of a unique and distinctive character that is fundamentally about ‘mountain play’
  • Establish a wide range of summer facilities and amenities on the mountain that will act as “escape to the mountains” type of attractions that complement the size and scale of development established for winter use
  • Establish Sasquatch Mountain as a downhill and cross-country mountain biking “mecca”
  • Establish a wide range of waterfront amenities and facilities on Harrison Lake
  • Establish multi-use trail systems
  • Establish at least one and possibly two golf courses overlooking Harrison Lake
  • Build on the development of the ski lift serviced infrastructure and village development, programming their use for summer and the shoulder seasons
  • Ensure that all summer facility development is completed in an environmentally sensitive fashion

A wide array of summer-oriented facilities have been incorporated into the plans, designed to cater to the perceived desires and expectations of guests, second homeowners, and residents. These include the following:

  • An extensive network of trails throughout the resort. This will largely utilize the same trail system used for winter facilities
  • Paved “valley trail” system as the primary spine that links all areas of Sasquatch Mountain, designed to cater to walking, jogging, rollerblading and biking
  • Gravel-surfaced trails for hiking, jogging, dog walking, cross-country mountain biking, horseback riding, interpretive programs, etc.
  • Single-track trails for technical hikes and mountain biking, etc.
  • Lift-serviced facilities and activities (downhill mountain bike park, sightseeing, zip lines, tree walk adventures, hiking interpretive tours, horseback riding, etc.)
  • Waterfront-oriented facilities, activities, and amenities on Harrison Lake (beaches, boating, marina, swimming, fishing, etc.)
  • An eighteen-hole golf course staged from the proposed Quqwathem Village

Supporting all of this, the following goals and objectives acted as the guide to the creation of the Sasquatch Mountain Master Plan:

  • Respect the natural attributes of the mountain and the setting recognizing that these are Sasquatch Mountain’s primary attraction and currency
  • Establish an unprecedented working relationship with the Sts’ailes First Nation – one that will assist both parties to respectfully achieve sustained prosperity
  • Provide state-of-the-art, all-season facilities linking the mountain, the village and base areas and Harrison Lake
  • Focus on the development and operation of a wide variety of recreation and retreat pursuits
  • Cater to the needs and expectations of the day-use visitors and the local resort residential population, establishing them as the baseline community to which destination guests will strive to identify with
  • Provide a well-balanced, lift-serviced alpine skiing and snowboarding experience as the primary winter attraction
  • Offer a diverse range of attractions to complement the alpine skiing including, but not limited to, cross-country skiing, skating, tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and backcountry touring
  • Establish summer facilities including, but not limited to, lift-serviced mountain biking, cross-country mountain biking, nature trails, hiking, swimming, boating, golfing, team-building, ATVing, and horseback riding
  • Establish a diverse mix of village-based facilities and amenities including restaurants, pubs, bistros, retail, equipment rental, training facilities, spas and “unique to Sasquatch Mountain” outlets and galleries
  • Incorporate resort residential developments, designed to be directly connected to all of the area’s attributes by capitalizing on “ski in/ ski out” opportunities, immediately accessible all-season trails, well-positioned solar access, and world class view scapes
  • Progressively establish a distinctive mountain resort community at Sasquatch Mountain

As exciting as it sounds, any giant multi-billion-dollar project comes with its challenges. Hurdles will have to be overcome with infrastructure and getting construction crews into remote parts of the Fraser Valley, much of which doesn’t have paved roadways. Environmental concerns will have to be addressed about how an undertaking as large as this one will impact the existing biosphere, along with any other factors that may arise during the construction phase. One thing is certain, however; if all or at least most of these plans do end up coming to fruition, Sasquatch will live up to its name and be one of the biggest resorts in British Columbia, rivaling the likes of Whistler Blackcomb and Sun Peaks Resort. That, surely, will pique interest among the ski community in not only British Columba and Canada, but the throughout the entire world.

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