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Funding sought for next phase of major Whitewater Ski Resort developments

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
December 23rd, 2022

Nearly $2 million in provincial grant funding could be coming to the slopes of Whitewater Ski Resort for the completion of two major projects.

The resort — located 10 kilometres south of Nelson — partnered with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) to apply to the B.C. Destination Development Fund, a program aimed at fostering resort destinations and building year-round visitor economies.

The applications centre around phase two ($750,000) for the Hummingbird Lodge and Campground project — a campground for RVs and tents — and a $1 million application for civil works infrastructure to support resort development.

Both projects will build upon the work that began two years ago when the RDCK and the resort teamed up to land a $1 million grant from the province to begin building the Hummingbird Lodge and an accessible mountain biking trail.

With a total project budget of $1.7 million, the campground and trail were combined with associated civil works — including a new septic line and field — and a new fresh water infrastructure to support the development.

The project has allowed Whitewater to launch itself into a four-season resort and was phase one in a five-year plan for the business, noted Kirk Jensen, Whitewater vice president of development in a letter to the RDCK board of directors in late November.

“(E)ven though Whitewater received no economic benefit from opening these hiking trails to the public, they were, anecdotally, the second most sought out hiking trails in the Kootenay (region) behind the Kokanee Provincial Park,” he wrote. “Working with the RDCK to create the path to developing these new camping and hiking centres has increased the RDCK tourism draw provincially, and accelerated Whitewater’s development plans.”

The project is on schedule to be completed in March 2023, he noted, with the campground open to serve RVs this winter and tenting officially opening next summer. Hummingbird Lodge will be open for business in March 2023.

If the grant applications are successful, the RDCK will administer the funding, while Whitewater will be responsible for delivering the project.


Trail blazing

In addition to the grant obtained by the resort in 2021, the Friends of Pulpit Rock Society secured funds to build new hiking trails on the Whitewater terrain, including the White Queen trail, new hiking trails to the shoulders of Ymir Peak (from west Ymir) and to Sherpa Peak.

“These trails and services are for the community at large,” noted Jensen in his letter. “The main focus of the summer programs at Whitewater are directed at alpine hiking, mountain running, accessible mountain biking, and camping.

“It is one of the few alpine areas in the Kootenay where vehicle access is not on a forest service road.”

In addition, Whitewater continues to build its winter programs and has contracted Poma Lift Company to install a new quad chairlift at the resort in the summer of 2023.

“At the start of winter season 2023, Whitewater will have invested close to $5 million, not including the $1 million grant, over the preceding two-and-a-half years,” said Jensen.

Source: RDCK December agenda

Hummingbird Lodge and campground

The project entails the construction of up to three rental cabins (with services in place) adjacent to the current Hummingbird Lodge and Campground.

It would also involve a wheelchair accessible covered deck to the front of the lodge, with continued development of accessible mountain bike trails in the ski area boundary. There will be a new disk golf area adjacent to the camping area.

The project will upgrade the campground facilities to include a covered cooking and clean up facility, as well as increased accessible, interpretative and educational signage.

The project is expected to be completed by March 2025.

The development of the civil works infrastructure would add future skier services, food and beverage outlets, first aid services and a public space.

There would also be a new water treatment facility built, with a micro-hydro plant constructed to augment electricity usage at the resort. This would effectively increase electrical charging facilities for people visiting the resort. 

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