A backhoe and a breaker were present all week, dismantling the former ski lodge foundation. Photo supplied.

Cleanup begins of abandoned Forbidden Plateau ski hill

The clean-up of the abandoned ski hill on Forbidden Plateau Road is underway.

An excavator and a breaker were present at the former Wood Mountain Park from Oct. 23–27, working to dismantle the crumbling concrete foundation that housed the ski hill’s main lodge.

Once the breaker was done demolishing the concrete, the backhoe worked to lay down soil for hydro-seeding.

“Now we’re in the cleanup process, getting it ready to be hydro-seeded,” said Dave Mellin, who is involved with the group undertaking the remediation project, on Friday.

Read More: Province gives green light to clean up project of abandoned ski hill

“The parks branch really wanted it demolished and cleaned up, so we’ve done that. And there are a few other small buildings that are getting cleaned up, too.”

Mellin is one of the directors of the Forbidden Plateau Reclamation Society (FPRS). The non-profit volunteer group received permission from the provincial government earlier this fall to remediate the ski hill, which has been abandoned since the late 1990s.

The FPRS was formed in 2016 and has been working since then to secure the funds, insurance, and documentation necessary to clean up the hill.

While they did not secure any funding promises from the provincial government, the FPRS did receive just over $40,000 in grants from the Comox Valley Regional District, BC Hydro, and a few companies interested in helping out with the initiative.

Mellin said they might also apply for some funding through the Comox Valley Foundation.

“We’re trying to figure out what the biggest bang for our buck would be, without disturbing the landscape more than it already is,” he said.

Now that the first portion of the cleanup is complete, the project’s next step is to remove the chairlift’s towers and cables — the most costly part of the project.

“If we have that flown out by helicopter, we’re looking at a rate of $4,500 per hour,” he said. “We’d spend a lot of money, but we wouldn’t be messing up the landscape.”

Mellin expects the project to take at least two years.

“We’re picking away at it. The big-ticket item was getting rid of the day lodge foundation. This is a Class C park. It didn’t look very park-like with that mess,” he said.

Since closing its doors in 1999 following a ceiling collapse of the main ski lodge, the Forbidden Plateau Ski Hill has housed abandoned structures marked with graffiti and a non-functioning chairlift.

The ski hill is located off of Forbidden Plateau Road in Strathcona Provincial Park, about a 30-minute’s drive from Courtenay.

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