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New Callaghan adventure lodge under fire

Proposal calls into question long term planning for the valley

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He suggested staff revisit that southern boundary expansion to include the area of the proposed lodge.

But Brad Sills, one of the owners of Callaghan Country, which has operated a lodge in the Callaghan for years, doesn’t think saying “no” unilaterally to development in the area is the answer.

“Somebody better get on and figure out what are the ramifications to Whistler and I don’t believe that just saying no is the answer because you just stall by doing that,” said Sills this week.

“Let’s be proactive here and figure out what’s a win/win situation. That’s what I would advocate.”

The $25 million High Point Lodge development proposal spans three phases. The first phase is now making its way through the SLRD. It would allow Blackcomb Snowmobile to relocate its base camp deeper into the valley — a move that was initially prompted by the decision to locate the $119 million 2010 Nordic venue in the Callaghan Valley.

The second phase of the development calls for the 55,000 square foot lodge, including spa facilities and 24 units of roughly 1,000 square feet each. The lodge includes three heli-pads to accommodate heli-skiing.

The third phase would see the development of individual cabins of roughly 1,000 square feet each.

The facility is proposed to be located right beside the new $16 million highway which runs into the Callaghan Valley directly to the Nordic centre.   It will be just five kilometers from the Olympic development, which will be a cross-country skiing legacy after the Games.

The second and third phase of the development was originally anticipated to take place before 2010 but Wilson said that has been revised to post-Games.

“It’s just been a dream that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Wilson, who has owned and operated Blackcomb Snowmobile for 17 years.

“It’s something I can see that the Callaghan Valley needs.”

There is some debate, however, on what the Callaghan Valley needs.

Sills, who operates Callaghan Country, has been involved in several planning processes.

“There’s literally a room full of studies on the Callaghan Valley,” he said this week. “The Callaghan Valley, in terms of recreation, has been the most studied area anywhere in the province.”

And yet, he said, there is no consensus on what should happen there, if anything.

He has received approval from the SLRD to build another lodge in the backcountry totaling 8,000 square feet. It is designed to operate in concert with the existing lodge, which is the same size, to offer what is commonly called “hut to hut” cross country skiing.