Update: April Fools!
It has been a project in the making for a decade – the worst kept secret of Cypress Mountain and Grouse Mountain. The dual ski facilities at Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains are planning a merger that will also see the construction of major entertainment and resort hotel buildings at the mountains as well a Peak to Peak gondola that will connect Cypress and Grouse.
The merger comes as Cypress and Grouse Mountain’s combined attempt to attain a greater market share of the British Columbia’s skiing industry, particularly within Vancouver. The aim for the soon-to-be amalgamated mountains is to attract Vancouverites and tourists who would normally take a pass on Cypress and Grouse to flock to “big mountain” experiences outside of the city.
Until now, Cypress Mountain has been billed as Vancouver’s “big mountain” experience, at least in relative terms compared to the smaller Grouse and Seymour Mountains. The new merged entity has been tentatively named as “Cypress-Grouse.”
Vancouver’s new mountain experience will also include a $617-million expansion that will truly link the two mountains for one combined experience and establish non-recreational/non-skiing activities. The hope is to establish a new world-class, internationally-acclaimed around-the-clock ski resort that will attract not just skiers, but also those individuals looking for other entertainment and activities very much like what Whistler offers.
This will greatly expand on Grouse’s existing tourism-oriented approach towards its operations and attractions. However, for Cypress Mountain this will engage the West Vancouver mountain towards a completely new approach of an all-season and tourism-oriented attraction.
The entire expansion project is currently pending provincial review as it largely built on protected lands that are not currently part of the ski areas. An environmental review of the project is also required. There is no doubt that these plans will face much criticism and environmental activist opposition. However, if approved, 2000 new full-time resort jobs will be created and it will be built in phases for a full 2022 completion.
Operators have noted that without the approval of the entirety of these expansion plans, the merger will not be feasible. The amalgamation of the mountains depends entirely on the approval of the expansion plans. In particular, the new Peak to Peak gondola between Cypress and Grouse will not be feasible without the development of a large fully-operational resort with a large quantity of accommodations and entertainment options.
Here is what is being proposed for $617-million:
1) $168-million “Peak to Peak” tri-cable gondola between Cypress and Grouse. Longer and higher than Whistler’s record-setting Peak to Peak, Vancouver’s proposed North Shore Peak to Peak gondola will be a lift unlike any other in the world and will also be the most expensive ever built. The lift will span 10.1-kms in length from the base of Cypress to the peak of Grouse, carrying passengers within 46 cabins in just 23-minutes from end to end. Each cabin will cost a million dollars each to build (like Whistler’s Peak to Peak) and will have a capacity of 28 passengers. It will travel over Capilano Valley and Capilano Lake, reaching an ultimate height of 587-metres above the lake surface at mid-point. Needless to say, the views of the city will be out of this world.
2) $83-million gondola and new parking lot area at the base of the existing Cypress Mountain access road next to Highway 1. Those visiting and working at Cypress Mountain will have to utilize the new gondola. The existing access road up the mountain will be limited to only maintenance and delivery vehicles, the mountain’s new ski area residents, and will only be open to everyone during the gondola’s non-operating hours.
3) Residential and hotel complexes will be constructed at Cypress. This includes 84 luxury single-family chalets, 129 townhouse units, 305 condo/hotel units, and 415 hotel rooms (split between a 3-star hotel and a 4-star hotel). These residences and accommodations will be built at areas that are currently the parking lots for the downhill skiing area and the Hollyburn cross-country skiing area. The townhouse, condo, and hotel units will be built in 11 buildings as high as 8-storeys. Most of the condos and hotel rooms will be located at a new pedestrian village at the base of the downhill ski area.
4) Entertainment and convention facilities at the new Cypress Mountain pedestrian village: 7 restaurants, 2 nightclubs, 3 bars and pubs, as many as 10 shops, and 100,00 square feet of underground convention and meeting space.
5) A new hotel atop the Peak of Vancouver at Grouse Mountain. This will be a 125-room, 4-star hotel that will act as an expansion building of the existing mountain-top Grouse Chalet. The new hotel will also be the terminus for the new Peak to Peak gondola between Cypress and Grouse, and will also include 2 new restaurants and 40,000 square feet of meeting and conventino spaces.
6) Improvements to mountain infrastructure to both Cypress and Grouse, including water, electricity, and sewage in order to accommodate the planned mountain-top expansions.
7) $52-million for new ski run areas, additional ski lifts and snow making equipment. 7 additional downhill ski runs and 4 new ski lifts will be built at Cypress.
Written and researched by Kenneth Chan, the Deputy Editor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Kenneth on Twitter at @kjmagine.
Featured image credit: Joffrey Koeman