A proposal for a third ski resort in Fernie has been unveiled to Fernie City Council. Fernie currently has two resorts including Fernie Alpine Resort, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, and Island Lake Resort. Island Lake has grown from a ski touring facility to a world class Snow-cat operation with plans for ski lifts and major accommodation upgrades.
The latest resort proposal is for Heaven’s Gate, described as a “four season, multi generational mountain experience connected to the heart of downtown Fernie,” proposed by developers Heaven’s Gate Holdings, which includes former Fernie Alpine Resort owner Heiko Socher and Craig MacLeod of Evolve Resort Group.
They propose to build a $150 million gondola to the top of Fernie Ridge (7300 ft) with a mid-station and village on top of Ridgemont. The mid-station would be “the home of a future pedestrian area, including envisioned leadership training facilities, all in walking proximity to the gondola mid-station and base station located in downtown Fernie.”
The activities listed in their proposal include “life services high altitude downhill and Nordic skiing, accessible touring, snowshoeing and nature walking and hiking, mountain biking and zip lines, four season gondola sightseeing.”
A total of four ski lifts would serve downhill ski trails for different abilities and allow ski touring access to the backcountry, also listed as a potential expansion area. The project would create “the highest base elevation in the province” with a restaurant and observatory providing 360-degree views.
To complement the existing resorts, Heaven’s Gate vision would focus on maintaining affordability and enjoyment for all generations. This was Heiko Socher’s (seen here at Fernie Snow Valley with wife Linda) vision with Fernie Snow Valley. Both Fernie Alpine Resort and Island Lake Resort are priced for the high-end ski market and have excluded many local Fernie people and the traditional markets of the past.
The resort planners wish to move ahead with the development as soon as possible. They have secured a letter of support from the City of Fernie and with good luck, skiing cold possibly return for the public in Fernie.