Big White Ski Resort says it will spend $3.9 million to build the new Powder Chair on the mountain this year, part of $10 million in improvements in 2018. —Image: contributed

Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna announces 2018 spending spree

Included in $10 million worth of improvements, will be a new $3.9 million chairlift

Big White Ski Resort has announced what it is calling its largest single-year investment at the resort in 10 years.

On Thursday, the operators of the popular ski hill located east of Kelowna, revealed a list of big-dollar improvements planned for this year at the resort, including $3.9 million to build the new Powder Chair.

“When was the last time someone spent $10 million to show you a good time?” said Michael Ballingall, senior vice-president of Big White Ski Resort. “With the tourism economy in British Columbia booming and the airport in Kelowna reporting record visitation, we’re betting on a buoyant economy to show a substantial return on this investment.”

The largest part of the investment will be the money for the new Powder Chair, a four-passenger fixed grip Leitner Poma lift that will replace Canada’s oldest and most popular triple chair, which was built in 1979. That chairlift has provided more than 15.8 million rides during its lifetime.

The new lift will increase upload capacity by 1,900 passengers per hour allowing more skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the terrain on the Powder Chair, said Ballingall.

In addition, the ski resort says it is also investing millions in other projects throughout the summer, including $1.5 million to expand the skier tunnel on the Hummingbird run. Its current width of 25 feet will be widened to 60 feet to accommodate increased skier and foot passenger traffic.

Big White will continue its expansion of mountain biking operations this summer with a $1.1 million investment in three to four new trails, as well as a slopestyle course. At the same time, crews will perform annual summer grooming and glading of the existing ski runs worth another $200,000. In the winter those runs will be groomed with the help of a brand new $450,000 Pistenbully groomer.

Other investments include $1.1 million in annual lift and machinery maintenance, $500,000 in building maintenance, $750,000 in water and sewer upgrades and $150,000 for a new on mountain shuttle bus.

“I’m proud to be leading the third generation of our family-owned business, which was established in the summer of 1985,” says Peter Plimmer, president and CEO of Big White Ski Resort Ltd.

“My grandfather, Desmond Schumann, would be proud of what we’re doing here at the resort and I am confident all of these projects will be accomplished provided Mother Nature cooperates with an exceptional spring skiing season and melting our over eight metres of cumulative snowfall.”

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