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City ski resort proposed above Mission

An artist
An artist's rendition of what the Kelowna Mountain development would look like circa 2007.
— image credit: Contributed

This article first ran in the Capital News on Jan. 19, 2007 as reported by Jennifer Smith

If they were looking to generate buzz, developers Mark and Nicola Consiglio couldn’t have picked a better time to spread the word about their vision for a Mission-area ski resort.

On Tuesday, the pair took Kelowna city councillors on a tour through their mountainous South Slopes property, packing two limousines full of young outdoor enthusiasts to show off the ski hill, snowboarding half-pipe and other mountain amenities they’ve built for their six children.

They would like to share the facilities with the rest of Kelowna as part of a new Kelowna Mountain development, they say.

“We’ve done enough on the property as our own private family estate to show what kind of contribution it could make if it became part of Kelowna,” said Mark Consiglio, who developed The Cottages at Secret Point on the Westside and Trailside at Big White.

The bulk of the property is outside the city limits, but the family is lobbying to have it annexed by the city.

“To be perfectly candid, I wanted to get a feel from those who are on council as to how they would feel about the idea,” Consiglio said.

Word of the tour reached media outlets late Tuesday, just as reports that Revelstoke had finally found the right investor to launch its own long-anticipated ski resort hit the evening news.

Within a day, buckets of powdery snow blanketed the Okanagan Valley, adding an air of excitement to the many questions generated by this latest mountain plan. The offices of Kelowna’s mayor, local MLA Sindi Hawkins, the regional district and city hall planners were all reportedly fielding calls—but most had little to report.

It seems there’s a mountain of hurdles still facing the project, not to mention the paperwork.

“We’re not very far in,” Consiglio acknowledged late Thursday, after reportedly spending the day swamped with queries and in meetings.

“I’ve met with city manager Ron Mattiussi and he suggested we meet with the councillors individually and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.

The tour included Mayor Sharon Shepherd, Councillors Michele Rule, Carol Gran, Colin Day, members of Friends of the South Slopes and Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society. The plan calls for four side-by-side 60-metre trail networks—for mountain bikers, motorized vehicles, horseback riders and walkers/runners—connecting the proposed village centre and terrain park of the resort to its Mission neighbours.

“As soon as we get our approvals, we’ll be in a position to let people use it,” said Consiglio, noting he’s hoping those approvals will be ready by the time the first phase of development builds out.

The only paperwork on file with the city to begin the complicated subdivision and zoning process is for the first phase of development—a 55-lot, 36-acre strip off Chute Lake Road.

The bulk of the project doesn’t fall within the city’s boundaries.

“They’ve sort of got this vision and they’re doing planning around that vision, but the actual project has not come before either the regional district or the city,” said Mayor Sharon Shepherd.

The Consiglios are currently taking deposits for the Chute Lake lots, pending subdivision and rezoning of the land for that phase, which is currently the at third-reading stage with the city.

Financed with profits from The Cottages at Secret Point, Consiglio figures sales from the 55-lot Chute Lake subdivision will generate the $20 million necessary to build out the initial ski hills, add chairlifts and perhaps their first man-made lake. But there’s no plans to sell off the many large, high-end lots in their second phase quickly.

“Some years we’ll have a great years and sell 25 lots. If (Osama) Bin Laden bombs the Space Needle, we’re not going to sell any lots. We’re just going to be very realistic,” he said, explaining how the mountain could eventually grow and prosper.

The entire project is subject to city council’s approval and right now the $6.5 million, 640-acre Kelowna Mountain area where all the amenities are located remains regional district territory, waiting to go through the annexation process.

“It would be more environmentally friendly to have city services,” Consiglio said, when asked why the property needs to be under city control. “Applying to the city would allow us to extend our city sewer and water that we already have on our 36 lots into the rest of the development.”

This likely means a few years of work.

“Number one, they have to get city council to include (the property) in the city limits—that’s a big hurdle. Number two, they then have to apply for a development application for the concept they are thinking about and then they’ll have to go through a technical exercise to subdivide. So they’ve got three big hurdles,” said city planner Bob Shaughnessy.

Nevertheless, the Consiglios say they have plenty to look forward to. The amenities they’ve already built for their own purposes include:

• An Olympic standard snowboarding half-pipe that they believe could be used for 2010 Olympic training.

• A 225-metre by 25 metre lake, used for hockey and skating in the winter.

• A competition-sized ski/snowboarding terrain park.

• A 110-foot man-made waterfall.

• Toboggan runs and ski hill accessible by a Snowcat.

Plans in the works include:

• A 100-metre Capilano-style suspension bridge.

• Trail links to the Kettle Valley Railway trail system and 10 kilometres of trails.

• A retail/ski village and ski runs.

• A 1.6-kilometre water sports lake for wake boarding, water-skiing and swimming

• An 18-hole championship golf course that would not use herbicides or pesticides.

• Potential links to the transit system and a possible donation to help cover the cost.

• An ice winery.

• A potential land donation (Two private schools have expressed interest in relocating to the development if the Consiglios were to donate the land.)

The Consiglios bought the 36-acre property proposed for the first phase at 5127 Chute Lake Road in March 2005 for $1.15 million.

The land for the second phase was purchased for $6 million in March 2006 .

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