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Powder King’s ownership hinges on unsigned wills

Through a holding company, the couple held complete ownership of the ski resort with the shares split on a 50-50 basis.
Powder King Resort near Mackenzie

A petition has been filed in B.C. Supreme Court seeking declarations that two unsigned wills represent the "testimentary intention" of the now-deceased part-owner of Powder King Mountain Resort to hand over the operation's reins to his widowed wife.

Filed Aug. 14 at the Kelowna courthouse, the petition says Christopher James Salisbury had been in the process of drafting the wills when, ailing from a long-running lung disease, his health took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to hospital in Prince George on April 1, 2022.

Within a few days, he was intubated, sedated and flown to hospital in Vancouver. Subsequently diagnosed with cancer throughout much of his body, he was taken off life support on April 16, 2022.

By that point, a primary and secondary will had been drafted and were ready for Salisbury's review but, according to the petition, he had no way of signing them.

The petition was filed on behalf of Heidi Robyn Salisbury, Christopher Salisbury's wife of nearly 20 years.

Through a holding company, the couple held complete ownership of the ski resort with the shares split on a 50-50 basis. At the time of Salisbury's death, the couple and their five children also lived at the resort near Mackenzie, about 195 kilometres north of Prince George.

The process to get a will in place had begun about eight months before Salisbury's death, about half of which was occupied by whether to create a family trust. By late-February 2022, Salisbury decided to back away from the idea in favour of the wills while also telling his lawyer about his health issues but mentioning they were not life-threatening.

In instances where a written will has not been signed by the will-maker and two witnesses, the court can still determine it is valid on the basis of other records, including those recorded or stored electonically. Several references are made in the petition to meetings between Salisbury and his lawyer over videoconferencing.

Powder King Resort Inc. also operates a campground and store at nearby Azouzetta Lake and a gravel pit in the District of Mackenzie, according to the petition.

Since at least this past March, the resort has been up for sale with an asking price of $8.25 million.