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Zincton proponent reaches out to Kaslo council

David Harley described it as a ‘good neighbour’ visit
One of the people behind a planned ski resort has pitched the plan to Kaslo council. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative

The developer behind the Zincton ski resort proposal between New Denver and Kaslo met with Kaslo Village council to talk about the project.

David Harley said he was making a “good neighbour” visit to talk about Zincton, now in the earliest stages of the approval process. He said his visit was informal, and he was speaking as a local person trying to create economic and recreational opportunities for the area and its youth.

His message throughout the 15-minute presentation at the Dec. 8 council meeting was consistent: Zincton will not be a business-as-usual ski resort.

“The ski industry is an old industry, from the 1950s and 1960s, and it hasn’t changed very much except becoming increasingly commercialized,” he said. “Our philosophy is to try to turn to a much quieter, much more rural and much less urban experience, and try to step away from the impact, congestion, exclusion and carbon that comes with intensive development.”

Instead, Harley says, Zincton is from its bones built with the environment in mind. “The Zincton village footprint is about 70 acres – 1/5 the size of New Denver, 1/10 the size of Kaslo,” he said. “It’s tiny, and the brand new infrastructure means all impacts will be exceptionally low.”

In terms of energy use, Harley told council Zincton will be “climate neutral.” He noted they have access to green energy in the form of the run-of-river hydro plant in Sandon, and they plan to install solar panels on some buildings.

“Zincton will be powered by sunshine and gravity, climate neutral from opening day forward,” he said.

The provincial government recently released its report on public feedback to the preliminary proposal, made last spring. It received more than 3,000 comments from the public. In his presentation, Harley addressed some of the concerns raised in that report, including environmental impact, safety, and freedom of access.

Besides green power generation, he noted that sewage waste was going to be treated in high tech “modular bio-reactors,” claiming Zincton will have “vastly lower waste impact than anywhere in B.C.”

For those concerned about humans impacting the ecosystem with their presence, he noted that Zincton was, unlike the doomed Jumbo project to the east, hardly untouched wilderness.

“Much of this tenure near Retallack is best described as an “unremediated mining district” with toxic water, open mining shafts, and lead/ arsenic contamination,” his presentation said. “It was mined for close to 90 years before cleanup was ever considered.”

Even after mining closed, the site that will contain the main village operated as a sawing station for local loggers. And he also noted that logging continues near the property, and would “impact this area far more than backcountry skiers ever could.”

Instead, the resort plans to actually keep people away from what remains of the best wildlife habitat in the area.

“Our summer exclusion zone removes all Zincton-related commercial activity from huckleberry montane zones, alpine meadows, and the wildlife corridors area,” he said. “Our bike trails will be low-elevation rail trail or wagon road links to the villages and surrounding valleys.”

As for economic impact, he reiterated the resort would create up to 150 jobs for locals during construction and many high-paying ones for skilled operators after it’s built. Other low-paying jobs would provide entry-level experience for youth.

“Roughly half the on-hill jobs will be high-value jobs including marketing, mountain safety and guides, product design, millwright, heavy equipment operators, maintenance,” he said in the presentation.

As for people concerned about losing access to the popular backcountry areas that are now free to use, Harley said Zincton will allow local walk-in users in the area to continue to access the backcountry zone for free. He noted they have even offered ski passes for frequent users.

He countered concerns about increased safety pressures on local emergency crews and health facilities.

“Zincton will initiate safety huts and heli-evac pads, avalanche mitigation, and safety protocols,” his presentation noted. “This area will become a much safer place to backcountry than it ever was before.”

Ultimately, it’s about the skiing, and Harley pointed out locals who love the slopes will benefit greatly from Zincton’s presence.

“We want to provide opportunities for young local families to enjoy a lifetime of skiing without the four-hour return drive in the dark on winter roads to other regional ski areas,” he told council.

“It’s a deliberate attempt to be a departure from the status quo, and it’s something we hope West Kootenayites can be proud of.”

Harley didn’t ask council for a letter of support for the project – something the Village declined to do last spring when the project was first unveiled. Council received his materials for information.

- Valley Voice