There were oohs and aahs, along with plenty of delighted squeals and shrieks Thursday, as what’s being billed as a premier new tourist attraction opened on Vancouver Island.
The new Malahat Skywalk, located about half an hour north of Victoria, features a 600-metre elevated walkway through the treetops to a spiral tower 250 metres above sea level with 360-degree views of the coastal region, including the Gulf Islands, Coast Mountains and Mount Baker.
It also includes an “adventure net,” that lets bold visitors bounce and stare down at the void below, and a huge spiral slide — the source of the delighted screams.
David Helgesen was one of the first people to climb the tower on opening day.
“It’s really spectacular, it really is,” he said, adding that he was going in for a season’s pass.
“It’s that good and we’ll come back that many times. Every time you come out, you’re going to see something new.”
Construction on the project started in January 2020. It wasn’t until July 1, when the province moved to Stage 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan, that operators were able to confirm an opening date.
“It was a long time coming,” skywalk General Manager Ken Bailey told Global News.
While the spiral tower commands immediate attention, Bailey said he was particularly proud of the elevated walkway itself.
“One of our core missions is to make nature accessible to people in a non-intrusive and environmentally friendly way, and we believe we’ve done that,” he said.
“It’s something you really have to experience to understand what it’s like to walk through the canopy of the trees.”
Both the walkway and the tower have been engineered to a five per cent grade, and are wheelchair and stroller accessible, he said.
The attraction is on the lands of the Malahat First Nation, who Bailey said have been enthusiastic cultural and business partners in the project.