Thursday, October 20, 2016

Redevelopment of the Glacier Park Lodge at Rogers Pass

How cool would it be to have a new hostel at Rogers Pass? Parks Canada has taken  control of the old Glacier Park Lodge site with plans to redevelop it. Would be a shame if it became yet another Brewster attraction that is too expensive for the people who use the area. Here is what I wrote to Honorable Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna.

Dear Honorable Minister:

I am pleased to learn today that Parks Canada is moving forward with redevelopment of the Glacier Park Lodge site. I was young at the time when it was closed and just getting into backcountry skiing so I never got to experience the convenience of being able to wake up and go skiing or hiking right from the door of the hotel. I am writing to you today because I believe that the site would be best utilized as a hostel. The Alpine Club of Canada and Hosteling International operate hostels along less popular travel corridors such as highway 93, so I believe that a hostel is viable along the much busier Trans-Canada Highway.

Backcountry skiing has exploded in popularity and Rogers Pass is home to some of the best skiing in the world. The combination of great ski terrain and abundant snowfall and being reasonably close to Calgary means that skiing is popular. The 1 hour drive from Golden or Revelstoke can become quite treacherous in the winter and it has become increasingly common for skiers to “camp out” in designated trailhead parking spots rather than brave a morning drive, and sleeping in the car presents an economical option for a group who cannot afford resort hotels, lift tickets, helicopter, or cat skiing. Catering to climbers, skiers, and hikers honours the heritage of the original Glacier House which was used as a base for mountain climbing and the Swiss Guides when it was located near where the Illecillewaet campground presently sits. A hostel would also be welcome to travellers that become stranded due to highway avalanche closures or motor vehicle accidents rather than having them extorted for $300 per night hotel rooms.

I fear that if the site is redeveloped as a luxury wilderness hotel, it will not provide the same benefit to the community. West Louise Lodge in Yoho National Park has become increasingly aggressive to backcountry skiers, and now charges parking fees on the multi-day point to point Wapta traverse, one of the best ski tours in the world.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on redevelopment of the site as a hostel.


Peter Knight

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