The development would be accessable via helicopter or by foot. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

The development would be accessable via helicopter or by foot. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

‘You’re going to have a fight on your hands’: development proposed on iconic Mount Begbie

A 16 person hut and 16 person chalet has been proposed near the glacier

There was standing room only at a public meeting last night for a proposed commercial development on Mt. Begbie.

The project, called the Mount Begbie Alpine Chalet group, includes plans for a hut and chalet in the alpine, near the glacier.

The 16 person “alpine club” style hut would have a group kitchen and dorm accommodations and the 16 person “European style” chalet would be equipped with en-suite bathrooms, flush toilets and showers, gourmet meals, a hot tub, massage therapist and a wine list.

The development would be accessible via helicopter or by foot.

Iconic Mount Begbie from Revelstoke Mountain Resort on opening day, Dec. 1, 2018. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Ian Tomm, tourism consultant and former Canadian Avalanche Centre director, is one of the proponents behind the project. He said the development would probably be visible with binoculars from Revelstoke.

“I’ve looked up there and thought a hut would be great,” said Tomm, who lives in Revelstoke.

Nick Holmes-Smith, who lives in Chase and owns Mustang Lodge near Revelstoke and Tom Ebbern, who has a home in Revelstoke, are the other proponents of the plan.

“Huts create a connection that is not possible anywhere else,” continued Tomm. The three proponents are seeking a crown land tenure for a small four acre site that would be non-exclusive.

So far, nothing has been submitted to the province for approval.

Tomm noted they wanted to present the idea to Revelstokians before submission and get feedback – if indeed they do apply to the Ministry of Lands and Forests.

Tomm is also trying to develop an indoor climbing gym in Revelstoke, in partnership with the squash club for a multiplex facility.

Last year, Tomm said he was working on a project that proposed a gondola on Mt. Begbie. While he is no longer involved in that project, he said it’s unlikely the gondola will come to fruition.

Regardless, he continued that the Revelstoke area is becoming increasingly attractive to developers and visitors.

There are other entities interested in Mt. Begbie, noted Tomm, such as logging and mining.

Ian Tomm is one of the proponents for the Mount Begbie chalet and hut. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

According to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Mt. Begbie has deposits of lithium and demand for that rare metal is expected to almost double in the next five years. It’s used extensively in making batteries.

First Energy Metals Limited, a company based in Vancouver, has mineral rights on Mt. Begbie, for at least another year. The Kootenay Lithium Project consists of 20 contiguous mineral claims that cover 1,700 hectares near Mt. Begbie and also consists of 30 contiguous mineral claims that cover 2,300 hectares on Boulder Mountain.

So far, no drilling has been conducted at either site.

Tomm said his proposed development would be “a meaningful, thoughtful and cultural investment in Revelstoke”.

“It’s not about recreation [or] tourism, but culture,” he said.

Currently, Recreation Sites and Trails BC looks after the trail and campground on Mt. Begbie. However, Tomm noted that the campground is overwhelmed with visitation, with many people camping above the campground in the alpine, where there isn’t an outhouse or proper bear storage facilities.

The proponents said they could improve facilities in area for other backcountry users, alongside the hut and chalet development, if approved.

“Every time I go up there I clean up garbage and human waste,” said Tomm.

The reaction

At the meeting, most people were quiet for the first hour. However, that soon changed.

“Most of us here want nothing. No development,” one attendee said.

“This is a sacred site. It should never be developed,” said another.

The room erupted in applause.

A third proposed a crowd funding project to purchase the land and turn it into a park.

Revelstoke resident, Ben Wilkey said there are other ways to look after Mt. Begbie that do not include commercialization.

He said potentially a non-profit, such as the local Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) section, could fund and look after the trail and campground.

Although Wilkey is on the board for the ACC, he said he attended as a citizen of Revelstoke.

Wilkey continued he would not support any hut in the Begbie area, even if it was run by the ACC.

“That is not a place for a hut. There are far better places elsewhere.”

In May, the North Columbia Environmental Society sent a letter to David Brooks -Hill, CSRD Area B director, for adding Mt. Begbie as Area B’s first regional park.

READ MORE: Environmental society wants to protect Mt. Begbie from development

“It is habitat for wolverines, mountain caribou, grizzly bears, black bears, beavers, cougars, moose, to name just a few of the signature mammals of our region,” the letter said. “More study is needed of this area in order to know what flora and fauna need to be protected from future development.”

Kate Borucz, executive director of NCES, said they met with Brooks-Hill and while the CSRD “was very supportive of the idea, they [Area B] didn’t have the funds to buy out existing tenures”.

“Funding is the biggest hurdle,” said Borucz.

In a phone interview, Brooks-Hill said he would like to see Mt. Begbie protected with no development and no logging. However, the CSRD would have to buy out existing forest tenures, which he guessed could cost millions. Even then, the province would still have to approve it.

“The province is the key partner.”

He said he would like to partner with the City of Revelstoke to try and find a solution.

Revelstoke resident Kate Borucz handed out a petition after the meeting to protect Mount Begbie from development. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Borucz handed out a petition after the presentation which will be circulated a Saturday’s farmers market, as well as be available online. The petition is to protect the Mt. Begbie area from development.

“Forever,” said Borucz.

READ MORE: Begbie Bench logging destroys lower Quarry trail

She said 49 people signed the petition at the meeting.

“If we don’t act fast, it will show Mt. Begbie is for sale.”

Unless it’s protected, people will keep trying to develop the mountain she said.

Tomm said he expected an outraged public response. However, he noted there is support also for the project, with some locals reaching out wanting to invest.

Next steps for the proposal include processing feedback from this meeting, further consultation, and negotiations with other commercial tourism stakeholders.

“After tonight the four of us will sit and put our heads together,” said Tomm.

At least 100 people attended the meeting at the Community Centre, though the room only housed 50.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

Illuminate Spirit Revelstoke Society said Revelstoke’s dark downtown core is unwelcoming. Lighting would make it more inviting and a point of interest. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
New community group hopes to ‘light up’ Revelstoke

Illuminate Spirit Revelstoke Society aims to purchase decorative lights for the downtown core

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
Kootenay-Columbia MP supports motion condemning Uighur genocide

Rob Morrison says labelling Uighur persecution as a genocide sends a message to Chinese government

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Most Read