A sustainable ski resort? : tourism development in Valemount, BC Dengler, Lia
Tourism development is a hot topic in many small single industry towns in British Columbia. While a resort development can bring much needed economic stimulus to a stagnating resource economy, it also creates new challenges and fundamentally alters the nature of the community itself. This research examines the sustainability of a proposed all-season ski resort development near the Village of Valemount, in the interior of British Columbia. It uses a literature review to try to discern the most common challenges and benefits associated with ski resort development, then evaluates the formal proposal against the 10 guiding principles of the Green Party of BC. However, it is important to note that this study is confined to a literature review, and without a consultation of stakeholders in the project, it may overlook current debates of local support or opposition related to this development. While ski resort developments are often controversial and high impact, the Valemount Glacier Destination (VGD) proposal exhibits an unusually high stated commitment in environmental and social sustainability. However, more information, and time, is needed to see whether it can fully meet all the goals it claims to achieve. With respect to the 10 guiding principles, several are satisfied and several are not. According to the definitions provided by the Green Party, the resort fulfills the principles of social justice, non-violence, gender equality, and diversity. However, the principles of sustainability, personal and global responsibility, and ecological wisdom are not met. The principles of grass roots democracy, community based economy, and decentralization are uncertain, with evidence for both sides, and require more information to know with certainty if they are fulfilled or not. Therefore, it may be necessary to monitor the status of the project information as it becomes available to ensure the Green Party stance best reflects the actual development of the project.
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