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Campaign builds for paving road to Whitewater after ‘horrendous’ spring

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
August 6th, 2019

The road to paradise could soon be paved with more than good intentions.

A move to pave the Whitewater Ski Resort access road is gaining some traction in the regional district as one of the region’s top downhill skiing destinations campaigns for tarmac.

Whitewater Ski Resort’s project to pave the 10 kilometres off of highway leading to the ski hill has been given Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors’ support after a recent board meeting.

Although the Ministry of Transportation (MOTI) and Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB) have been keeping the 10-km. road section operational from December to April each year, the job has become increasingly difficult, noted Whitewater general manager Kirk Jensen in a letter to the board.

“We continuously have challenges with our road due to the fact that seven kilometres of the road is still dirt and becomes increasingly hard to maintain when the spring weather moves in,” he wrote.

The previous year was quite challenging, he continued. The spring melt left the road in a “horrendous state” from mid March until Whitewater’s closing April 7.

“This has resulted in a significant negative impact to our business,” he wrote, resulting in a loss of revenue from people not wanting to travel to the resort and “increased cost to our shuttle operations and staff personal vehicles due to damage.”

Jensen said the road was the first and last impression people have of the hill and its condition will likely influence future business.

The RDCK board sent a letter of support to Whitewater Ski Resort and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure endorsing the paving of the Whitewater Ski Resort access road, with the “acknowledgment that there are a number of paving priorities in the regional district.”

In addition, the board requested MOTI staff draft a synopsis of an assessment of the safety risk to people driving the road based on the current condition of the road.

Jensen noted that all destination resorts in Western Canada have paved access roads “and Whitewater should be included with these other resorts.”

The Class A access road leading to Whitewater needs to be upgraded, Jensen explained, and eventually it has to be paved.

“Perhaps a staged approach is something that can be considered in the future,” he concluded.

The matter now lies with MOTI for the final say on whether the funds will be forthcoming for upgrading or paving the road.

Whitewater was purchased by Knee Deep in 2008 and more than $10 million has been invested into development of the resort in that time, resulting in an increase in visitation increase of 75 per cent (140,000 skier visits in 2019).

Sun rises on Morning Mountain

The regional district has approved a significant sum of money for the Blewett Conservation Society.

A total of $28,257 will be given to the society from the RDCK’s Community Works Fund after an application submitted by the society for the Morning Mountain community skating facility enhancement project was approved by the RDCK board.

Categories: General


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