invest in ski areas 

The provincial government is issuing press releases stating its support for the ski industry, but makes no commitment to new ski areas. A press release issued Dec. 21 by the Ministry of Employment and Investment says a new government forecast "indicates that British Columbia ski areas will continue a 20-year trend of strong growth and in the year 2000 over five million skiers will visit B.C. mountain resorts." The ministry has issued a new publication titled British Columbia Mountain Resorts: A British Columbia Investment Opportunity, which provides an overview of B.C.’s mountain resort industry and "invites entrepreneurs to participate in one of the province’s most exciting sectors..." The publication will be sent to overseas offices to attract "new investors into British Columbia’s existing ski areas." But while resort operators, like most businesses, could always use additional cash, many of the bigger ski areas in B.C. and resorts with excellent growth potential have already been bought by large companies as the industry continues to consolidate. Intrawest, a public company which owns Whistler-Blackcomb and Panorama in B.C., and Charlie Locke’s Skiing Louise Group which owns Fernie, Kimberley and several resorts in Alberta, usually don’t have any trouble raising capital or finding investors for real estate projects at their resorts. As well, some of the construction companies which did well on real estate development in Whistler have invested in projects at other mountain resorts, like Mount Washington. What is holding development back at the island resort is a reluctance on the part of individual investors to buy condos and townhouses while the provincial economy is on shaky ground. The press release, does not specifically refer to proposed ski areas like Al Raine’s Cayoosh or Wolfgang Richter’s Garibaldi at Squamish, but states: "A number of proposals that involve investments in B.C.’s mountain resorts are currently under review. The provincial government, as part of its three-year economic plan to improve B.C.’s business climate, stimulate the economy and help create new jobs, is committed to process these outstanding proposals in a timely manner and to continue promoting opportunities in B.C. to potential investors." Richter recently received a letter from Premier Glen Clark offering support and encouragement for his proposed resort. Raine has also had discussions with provincial representatives. Both projects are currently in the Environmental Assessment process, a process which, in Raine’s case, has gone on for years as various departments within ministries request studies of specific areas. Raine is currently faced with overlapping native claims to the Cayoosh area. The province has indicated he must come to a resolution with the First Nations, while he has said land claims and treaty negotiations are a provincial matter.

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