On Monday, May 17, the longest lift lineup in the history of B.C. skiing will go to trial. Diane and Nan Hartwick have been trying for 15 years to put lifts on Powder Mountain, in the Callaghan Valley. Monday their claim that former premier Bill Vander Zalm prevented them from doing that goes to trial in downtown Vancouver. "It’s the same issue that’s been outstanding for several years," said Bryan Shapiro, lawyer for the Hartwicks. "Vander Zalm interfered in the public proposal process, in 1987. We contend that the minister responsible (Jack Kempf) was about to approve (the Hartwicks’ proposal) when Vander Zalm overruled." The Hartwicks are suing the province and Vander Zalm for damages. Shapiro said the mother-daughter team had been negotiating with the province for two years for the rights to develop Powder Mountain and claims they had reached a tentative agreement. "We’re saying Vander Zalm stepped in," Shapiro said. Kempf, who Shapiro contends had gone so far as to draft a letter congratulating the Hartwicks (although the letter was not sent), will be called as a witness. The Hartwicks, through their company Powder Mountain Resorts Ltd., made several proposals for Powder Mountain in the ’80s but were never awarded any development rights. In 1987 another company was awarded some rights to study the Callaghan and Powder Mountain but nothing came of the plans. Shapiro said he suspects the Hartwicks would still be willing to go ahead with the Powder Mountain proposal if vindicated at trial. However, the process for approval of a ski area today is a lot more stringent than it was in the ’80s.