Heaven’s Gate requests support from council

On Feb. 27, council agreed to provide a letter of support in principle to representatives of a proposed ski resort south of Fernie called Heaven’s Gate.

Council heard a presentation from developers Craig McLeod, founder of Evolve Resort Group and Roi Bannerman, founder of a non-profit ministry.

The pair said the project would have positive economic impacts on the community.

“It was a high level presentation that was purely informational and required no response from council, they did however request a letter of support from council to provide to their investors,” said Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano in a statement. “As far as the next step in the process, that depends entirely on the proponents.”

According to the ski resort will include North America’s first pedestrian eco mountain community, which will be located on about 300 hectares of bench lands about 150 metres above the City of Fernie.

Heaven’s Gate will include Fernie’s second ski resort, with a high-speed gondola connecting the downtown area to the summit of Fernie Ridge. Some of the other planned facilities for the site include a conference centre, hotel accommodations, and commercial and residential housing.

McLeod said the resort has been in the planning stages for about ten years.

He noted that the late Heiko Socher, former owner and operator of Fernie Alpine Resort who passed away in October, was on the development team of the proposed ski resort.

“He is certainly a legend in the community and a real pioneer,” said McLeod. “For many years he was working behind the scenes together with us. He had a passion for building the community and a belief that there’s still great untapped potential in Fernie and he saw a real opportunity for some high altitude recreation and greater tourism.”

“He would have wished he could have been there for the grand opening,” he said. “But he’ll watch it from a different vantage point.”

McLeod said he’s been coming to Fernie to ski for about 40 years. He’s been working to move Heaven’s Gate forward and acquire the necessary lands to make the project viable.

“The bottom line is we feel there is a tremendous opportunity for Fernie,” he said. Ecotourism is a growing field. A lot of people are passionate about recreation and they’re looking for something different so we really feel that there’s a market niche that’s growing and developing for this kind of project.”

“We’ll be able to say more as we move forward,” he added.

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