Whistler Blackcomb announces $345 million investment in new amenities and expansion 

Long-term improvements include waterpark, new lifts, bike park expansion and more, in three-phase development

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF WHISTLER BLACKCOMB
  • Photo courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Blackcomb has announced an ambitious plan for a $345 million revitalization of its facilities at the regular Whistler council meeting April 5.

However, there is no fixed timeline in the three-phase plan, titled Renaissance, which would see a number of new weatherproof amenities built, as well as real estate development.

In order for the plan to come to fruition consultation has to take place with various levels of government and First Nations and will no doubt bring up the issue of the community bed cap.

It is expected that the plan would take about seven years to complete once the approvals are in place.

"This truly is a fascinating project," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden at the meeting.

"The Renaissance Project does meet the goals and objectives of the Economic Partnership Initiative.

"We are very much looking forward to working with (Whistler Blackcomb)."

No other members of council wanted to comment on the plan when asked after the conclusion of the briefing given to council by Dave Brownlie, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer.

"Whistler Blackcomb Renaissance is the most progressive investment in our history and will leverage our tremendous success building our non-ski business," he told council.

"Renaissance will further diversify our revenue and enhance the activities available for our guests while elevating Whistler Blackcomb's core skiing, mountain biking and sightseeing experiences and continuing our evolution as one of the industry's leading four-season mountain resorts.

"This is a very exciting growth initiative that, we expect, will increase year-round visitation to Whistler, insulate our resort from variable weather conditions, and strengthen Whistler's position as one of the premier mountain resort destinations in the world."

Brownlie believes the plan will bring120,000 roomnights a year after year three, boost annual occupancy over the 60 per cent mark and add 400,000 incremental visitor days a year.

The plan would see Watershed, a world-class indoor water-based adventure centre built at the upper base on Blackcomb Mountain.

There would be new on-mountain summer and winter attractions, including: a four-season mountain coaster; a new outdoor tree-top ropes course and air-based activities; electric ATVs and snowmobiles for children; night skiing facilities; a sightseeing suspension bridge connecting the peaks of Whistler Mountain; the expansion of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park at Creekside; and expanded hiking trails, among others.

Both Blackcomb's lower and upper bases would be revitalize, including two high-end real estate developments.

Renaissance is subject to satisfaction of a number of conditions, including municipal and provincial government approvals, the successful renegotiation and extension of Whistler Blackcomb's Master Development Agreements ("MDAs") and master plans, completion of consultations with the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations, and negotiation of a proposed business partnership with those First Nations.

The company estimates the construction period for phases one and two will be approximately four to five years, and expects to open the Watershed to the public within two years of the above conditions being met.

Regarding the renewal of the MDAs and master plans, which is a high priority for the company, Brownlie said, "We continue to be in active discussions with the Province and the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations to secure the renewal of our MDAs and master plans to pave the way for Renaissance.

"Whistler is in the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations traditional territories and we want to partner with these important stakeholders to benefit our shareholders and our communities.

"To that end, we have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out the basis on which we will be working together for the coming year.

Additional information about Renaissance is available on the Renaissance website at http://renaissance.whistlerblackcomb.com/

Whistler Blackcomb Master Plans

The Company's draft master plans are available at http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/holdings/financial-reports-filing-documents

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