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Vision of gondola to Silver King Mountains’ Morning Mountain not the first of its kind

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
July 27th, 2016

It’s nice to see Nelson City Council show some love toward the Silver King Skyride Development Association — the idea to bring about a gondola from the Silver King mountains’ Morning Mountain into the city.

Because, as Nelson’s Bill Sproule tells it, support wasn’t always overflowing when the vision of a tramway taking people from the CP Rail yard to the top of Morning Mountain was first pitched back in 2008.

“At that time we tried to get the City involved . . . Dave Elliott was the Mayor at the time and he was very interested in the project,” Sproule told The Nelson Daily.

“Unfortunately (some members) on the council at that time . . . in the three or four meetings we had with city council, never really heard anything that went on . . . they appeared to have their minds on something else.”

“They were more interested in social housing at the time than our idea.” 

The owner of Sproulers’ Enterprise said the tram idea arrived when Sproule and a few businessmen wanted to stimulate economic growth and revitalization of the downtown core through utilization of the CPR lands.

Sproule said Mike Davies, who was working with him at that time, had skied and toured throughout the area and thought about the feasibility to putting some kind of a lift to the Morning Mountain location.

The idea was to invest $30-$40 Million go build a gondola to the top of Morning Mountain, establish a base station at the top of the lift, and erect six lifts for alpine skiing.

“We kicked that idea around a bit and came up with the idea building a gondola from the CPR station to the top of Morning Mountain,” Sproule explained,” adding there is a 300-acre flat that was already logged.

“We felt this would revitalize that entire area and it would give access to all the people in Nelson moving here for the kind of lifestyle that we enjoyed forever here . . . mountain biking, use of the lake downhill and cross country skiing and it this would be accessed directly from downtown.”

Sproule said he found some private money to conduct a feasibility study.

The group had gotten tenure from provincial government before bringing in a backer from Vancouver, who had been involved in building lots of ski areas, to oversee the initial stage of the project.

“When he came up to Nelson and saw the area, he said, “Wow, this is a no-brainer.”

“You guys have to do this,” Sproule said.

“You need to figure out a way to make this project work.”

That’s when the project hit a brick wall.

Sproule said government red tape, and a “sit on the fence” approach by City Council of the day derailed the project.

“We had the (provincial) government on board on behalf of the city to kick in some money for a feasibility study and join in with the project,” Sproule said.

“That kind of fell by the wayside when (the municipal government changed). 

“(Council) made a couple of comments to the fella (from the provincial government) who had the cheque at the time when that transfer was suppose to take place and the money went somewhere else.”

Sproule said the original fee for the feasibility study also more than doubled, from $300,000-$500,000 to $1.2 Million.

That’s when the investor passed on the project.

“If you want to find usage for that land, here’s my proposal to you,” Sproule explained what the investor wanted to see before joining in on the project.

“You do the feasibility study, you get the Aboriginal people on board, you do the environmental assessment, you talk to the mines and property owners and you ask how much its going to cost me to buy that package off you to do the development,” he added.

Sproule applauds the work, and vision of the Silver King Skyride Development Association team.

“When you think about the opportunity for tourists, to get them up the mountain on a day ride, have a meal, look at the views from the top, watch the sunset and the be able to safely come back down into town it’s definitely an asset to the community.”

And what about his vision, back in 2008?

“It was pretty good idea . . . maybe it was a little ahead of its time,” Sproule said.

“I wish I had the money to do it but I invested a lot of time and money into mapping and surveying.”

“I don’t think either one them are pipe dreams,” he added.

“I think they’re both the right ideas if you can get the financial backing and get the right people involved to push it through.”

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