Revelstoke is set to follow in the footsteps of ski resorts around the world looking to diversify their off-mountain offerings with the approval of a 321-hectare adventure park.
Last week, the B.C. Government greenlit the Revelstoke Adventure Park, which will be located 10 kilometres outside the city. The $100-million project will feature ziplining, bungee jumping, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing and horseback riding. Onsite camping, including an RV park and yurts, is also in the works.
"Like Whistler, we're getting more well known for adventure tourism and this is just going to add to our repertoire of things to do," said Revelstoke Mayor Mark McKee.
The mayor expects visitation to the community to increase "dramatically," hopeful the park will attract a segment of the 3.5 million people a year who pass by Revelstoke on Highway 1.
"The more amenities we can put forward that people want to do be doing, we become a destination, we become a stopping-off point, and the idea is to get people to stay an extra day or an extra two days," he said.
Revelstoke Adventure Park CEO Jason Roe estimates the park will bring in an additional 100,000-plus tourists a year, transforming the ski town of 7,000 into a viable summer destination "as opposed to a drive-through."
But Whistler's Roger McCarthy, a ski-industry consultant and planner who has worked for a number of major resorts around the world, took a more tempered view.
"I think it's a pretty optimistic model," he said, adding that he believes Revelstoke's distance from a major urban centre — Calgary is a four-and-a-half-hour drive away — only adds to the challenge. "I'm sure if they build something that's nice, they can probably make a go of it, but it certainly isn't going to become a destination."
Revelstoke's adventure park follows on the heels of other resorts around the world working to expand their tourism product beyond skiing. In April, Whistler Blackcomb announced its largest investment in company history, the $345-million Renaissance plan, which will include an indoor adventure centre and waterpark, and a doubling in size of its existing bike park.
"The market trend around the world now is that summer activities are becoming part of a resort's master development plan," said Roe.
While not on the same scale, McKee said Revelstoke struggles with similar issues around housing and labour shortages as Whistler. With 200 additional seasonal jobs, and more than 50 year-round jobs, the adventure park is expected to ease some of the strain.
"Come summer, the job market narrows dramatically, so this will open up opportunities to have a lot of people come and live in Revelstoke year-round," noted Roe.
Construction is set to begin this spring, with the first phase of the park expected to open in spring 2018. The next three phases will be completed within the next four to five years.