Features & Images » Feature Story

Moving mountains o' real estate

Editor Bob Barnett hits the road to check out B.C.'s developing mountain resorts.

by

comment

Page 4 of 6

Someone driving to Revelstoke from Calgary would also have to pass the ski areas in Banff National Park and Kicking Horse at Golden before getting to Mount MacKenzie.

This assumes that people will get to these mountain resorts by automobile. In fact, most are drawing destination visitors from Europe and Australia who fly into Calgary or Cranbrook. Revelstoke also has an airport, although in its present configuration it is not large enough to handle commercial jets.

But destination visitors aren’t the bread and butter for these resorts or any others in B.C. Regional visits are, as Whistler has found out in recent years, key to economic sustainability.

Resort development starts with real estate sales. Resorts of the Canadian Rockies was put together by Charlie Locke in the late 1990s to get into the resort consolidation game. Locke, who is now out of the picture, brought Kimberley, Fernie, Lake Louise and Nakiska together under the RCR banner and started developing mountain resorts at Kimberley and Fernie.

Kimberley’s North Star Mountain, like Rossland’s Red Mountain, started off as a family ski hill operated by the local ski club and strongly supported by the mining company, Cominco — which was the reason the towns existed in the first place. As Kimberley’s Sullivan Mine began to reach the end of its life new fortunes were being made in mountain resort real estate.

Today at Kimberley, condominiums cover the lower slope of North Star Mountain, interspersed only by a couple of lifts and one of the three golf courses in town. Sitting above the town of Kimberley in the Purcells and looking across at the Rocky Mountains, the area is alive with outdoor recreation opportunities.

And that is perhaps Kimberley Alpine Resort’s downfall: why buy a condo up on the mountain when the rivers, lakes and many trails and additional golf courses are down in the valley? And the rental revenue from those condos may not be what was expected. Last winter Kimberley removed the covenant requiring condos to go into a rental pool because owners said it was impeding sales.

Up the valley, past Invermere and along Toby Creek Road, Panorama is more compact and isolated than the resort at Kimberley. The Panorama village has everything you’d expect at an Intrawest resort: a nice mix of various types of accommodation, a good golf course and everything well landscaped. Like Kimberley, you would have to leave the Panorama village area for groceries and most non-skiing activities, but there is a sense of a community at Panorama. It may be because the valley is cozier or because there are more single-family houses at Panorama and the owners flock to them on weekends.

Add a comment