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Hartwicks still pursuing Powder Mountain



The Hartwicks’ plans to develop Powder Mountain in the Callaghan Valley aren’t dead yet.

Nan Hartwick, who with her daughter Dianne has been working for nearly 20 years to develop an alpine ski resort at Powder Mountain, said last week Powder Mountain Resorts will be applying to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn two previous court rulings, and has been given a 90-day extension in which to formally apply.

"It’s not by any means over," Nan Hartwick said. "We intend to continue… the project does belong to us. We’re very determined there’s going to be a happy ending."

In a 1999 trial the Harwicks alleged that former premier Bill Vander Zalm interfered with the public proposal process for developing Powder Mountain as a ski area in the late 1980s. They further alleged that former forest minister Jack Kempf was about to approve the Hartwicks’ Powder Mountain Resorts proposal when Vander Zalm overruled him and awarded development rights to a rival company, Callaghan Resorts. At the 1999 trial the Hartwicks sought $2.3 million in damages plus interest, for a total of approximately $5 million.

After a multi-week trial which saw testimony from Kempf, Vander Zalm, former cabinet minister Grace McCarthy and former NDP MLA Moe Sihota, B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Tysoe ruled the Hartwicks failed to make their case. Among Justice Tysoe’s findings was that Powder Mountain Resorts Ltd. was never in a contractual situation.

The Hartwicks appealed and presented their case in a two-day hearing last March. On Oct. 24, 2001 a judgment was released by three B.C. Court of Appeal judges who dismissed the Hartwicks’ appeal.

"In summary, I do not believe it is open to this court to interfere with the trial judge’s findings of fact, based as they are on a careful consideration of the credibility of the witnesses, and the voluminous testimony and hundreds of documents that were adduced during the course of this long trial," Madam Justice Newbury wrote.

However, Hartwick said last week Powder Mountain Resorts will continue to pursue the matter.

"(Development of Powder Mountain) will improve things in Whistler," she said.

Hartwick also pointed out that a special prosecutor is still working on alleged criminal aspects of the Powder Mountain case.

Last year the Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General appointed a special prosecutor, Robert Gourlay, to provide the RCMP with legal advise in their review of allegations regarding the Powder Mountain Resort proposal. The RCMP’s commercial crime section is reviewing complaints but has not determined whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

While the Hartwicks have been working through the courts for the last several years, various provincial governments have also been active in the Callaghan. Part of the valley became a provincial park in 1997. Commercial backcountry recreation tenures have also been granted for parts of the valley and surrounding mountains. As well, the Callaghan Valley is the proposed site for Nordic events if Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics.