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There was a suggestion recently that work could begin as soon as this summer on one of the oldest skeletons in Whistler’s closet, Powder Mountain. Power Mountain, in the Callaghan Valley, has been considered for development as a ski resort since the early 1970s. Al and Nancy Raine were the first to look at the area. They abandoned their plans, in part because Whistler was still in the early stages of development and two developing resorts would have taken away from, rather than complemented, each other. As well, closer inspection showed the mountain was less suitable for development than first believed. In the late 1970s the mother and daughter team of Dianne and Nan Hartwick revived the Powder Mountain proposal. They believe they secured the rights to the area from the provincial government and, several times in the last two decades, have announced plans to begin development of the area, the latest coming last week. The timing of the Powder Mountain announcement raises suspicions. It comes just a week after the society working on the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid announced the Callaghan Valley has been identified as the site for the nordic events if an Olympic bid is successful. Prior to this, the last anyone heard of Powder Mountain was during the 1991 Social Credit convention, when the Powder proponents announced they were going to "blow the lid off" the convention, revealing how various Social Credit governments had made promises they didn’t keep. Regardless of past efforts and promises, it’s a much different environment to try and develop a ski area in today than it was even 10 years ago. For starters there’s the provincial government’s Environmental Assessment Review, which Raine’s Cayoosh proposal has been mired in for several years and which Garibaldi at Squamish will be involved in for at least the next year. All proposed ski areas have to go through the review, regardless of whether they were initiated before or after the Environmental Assessment Act came into being. The Act is so comprehensive there was even a suggestion Intrawest’s Creekside redevelopment plans might be subject to review. Then there’s the Delgamuukw ruling of last December, which has effectively hamstrung the provincial government from making any long-term decisions on new Crown land applications. On top of this the province’s Protected Areas Strategy Plan declared a couple of years ago, after consultations with local and regional governments, backcountry tour operators and mining and forest industry representatives, that development in the upper Callaghan should be limited. There are also the heli-ski operators and the Mad River Nordic Centre which have legal tenure to Powder Mountain and the Callaghan Valley respectively, although heli-skiing may be phased out. And now the site has been identified for cross-country and biathlon events for the 2010 Games, a decision that should preclude any development in the Callaghan until at least November, when the Canadian Olympic Association decides whether it will support the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid or that of Calgary or Quebec City. Those are the political obstacles Powder Mountain must overcome, then there is the matter of sewer, water and power to the area. All of which suggests any serious work on Powder Mountain any time soon is wildly optimistic.

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