A group of Pemberton and Whistler surfers are working to create a standing wave along the shore of Rutherford Creek, converting the lower basin in the kayak park into a standing wave that could be in operation from May to October every year.
So far they have the blessing of members of the kayak community and Innergex, which operates the Rutherford Creek Power Project. Organizers are looking to raise about $30,000 over the coming winter to be able to start work by spring of 2014.
"People had been talking about building a bigger wave park in Pemberton, which was just a pipe dream, and there was that wave garden proposal that was online," explained Tyler Kraushar, one of the people driving the project. "All this was on my mind one day when I was driving past the Rutherford, and I started thinking we could build something there that was both functional and realistic."
The project would only use the lower pool of the kayak course, installing a smooth concrete surface at the end of the run that would create a gravity-fed standing wave. Kraushar said they looked at other similar facilities in operation around the world to ensure it was possible here.
The artificial whitewater run was originally created as a kayak park, compensating the paddling community for the independent power project on Rutherford Creek. However, the facility has only been used a handful of times. It's considered too challenging for beginner and intermediate-level kayakers, and most elite whitewater racers in Canada are based in Eastern Canada.
Kraushar added that the facility hasn't been used in about three years, and was only used for about three sessions before that.
The standing wave will be designed so it can be used by kayakers, as well as surfers and other wave riders, and the kayak community is represented on the board.
The wave itself will be about eight to 10 metres wide. The low price tag for building the wave, Kraushar explained, comes from the time and resources donated by the project's supporters.
"We're figuring out the design ourselves, and we can get a lot of the project done with volunteer work," he said. "There's one company involved called Select Contracts, and another guy who works for a company down in the city who is helping us out. They're all on board as volunteers because they want to see this get built."
Access to the standing wave, once complete, will be by membership and possibly with drop-in rates as well. A campground is also being considered for the area, with proceeds going towards upgrades, on-site facilities and possibly upgrades to the upper section of the course.
Water levels vary in Rutherford Creek, but the water licence requires Innergex to release a certain amount of water at all times. The quantity of water available should be fine for most of the standing wave's season, although there could be low-flow periods in late summer where the park could be closed.
Kraushar said they will be selling $150 memberships at upcoming fundraisers to raise money for the project, which will kick in when the project is completed — hopefully in 2014.
Based on the response, Kraushar is confident that they'll get all the support they need.
The first fundraiser for the wave is on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Pemberton, with food, drinks, live music and a silent auction at Big Sky Golf and Country Club from 7 p.m. until midnight. A second fundraiser is being planned for November in Whistler at a time and date to be announced.
Like the Facebook Page at Pemberton Valley Surf if you want to know more. A website is being built as well.
For Kraushar, it would be a dream-come-true to have a local spot to surface. "I've always wanted to have something like this in my backyard so when I do go away on vacation to Hawaii or Costa Rica or Tofino, my skills will be sharper," he said. "A lot of guys who are avid surfers have jumped on this project, it's a perfect place for it."