The owner of Hemlock Resort near Agassiz is hoping plans to expand the small ski hill into an all-season playground will be approved.
Ralph Berezan bought the resort for $3 million in 2006 knowing he was in for a challenge. Previous owners were never able to keep afloat and the hill had gone into receivership twice.
Berezan’s new proposal to residents is to expand the hill to an all-season resort complete with homes on Harrison Lake, a marina, two golf courses, hotels and restaurants — all to be built over 50 years.
If the grand plan comes to fruition it would need more than a $1 billion in investment. Berezan is working with the province and the Sts’ailes Nation to make the deal.
“There is no formal agreement… but the opportunity for employment and employment training is what we’re looking for,” said Harvey Paul, Sts’ailes Nation Chief.
Berezan said the development will benefit all the stakeholders.
“It’s important that we have all this recreation here, so these tourists can come here and it helps our whole province and it helps the band,” Berezan said, adding that real estate development is key to the project.
“It definitely has to be a real estate play because who wants to invest tens of millions of dollars just to be a good citizen. Somewhere along the line you have to stop being Santa Claus.”
The project is a clear acknowledgement that small, stand-alone ski resorts are having a hard time making money.
Right now, Hemlock is a small hill with three runs, but if the plan is approved, the ski resort would expand to several mountain tops.
New trams would move people between the day area, lodging and ski hills. The whole development would be roughly the size of Surrey.