Mountain Bike Plans Taking Shape for New Squamish Resort
Garibaldi at Squamish is being designed as a year-round resort that will boast not just outstanding ski runs but also an outstanding mountain biking experience for Squamish locals and visitors alike. Unlike most bike parks, which are planned and built into existing operating resorts, we have the opportunity to plan the bike trails in conjunction with the ski runs and other mountain activities to optimize the terrain.
To build the best resort possible, the Garibaldi team is engaging the community and experts during the planning process. This Mountain Bike Feasibility Report is the first step in the process and after receiving feedback and ideas from the community and consultants, this report will eventually be incorporated into the Resort Master Plan that guides the official mountain planning.
Gravity Logic – a world leader in mountain bike Trail design
To prepare this report, the Garibaldi team has engaged Gravity Logic, a local Squamish/Whistler company and world leader in the design of mountain bike trails. Locally, Gravity Logic has built trails in Squamish and were the builders of the original bike park on Whistler Mountain 20 years ago. Now, their portfolio has expanded to include international projects throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central America.
The team met with Gravity Logic – as well as several local mountain bike trail builders, operational experts, and representatives of the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) – to get some input on the mountain terrain and viability of a bike park to make Garibaldi a true all-season destination. Out of that discussion came the draft Mountain Bike Feasibility Report and a wish to build something that is uniquely Squamish, better yet different than Whistler.
This is only the start of what we hope will be a very thorough and in-depth consultation with all levels of the Squamish mountain bike community as we move toward a more complete plan for the mountain biking component of the resort.
Excellent Mountain Biking Terrain
Gravity Logic walked the mountain and found that the terrain provides an excellent opportunity for varied mountain bike trails of all levels. Currently, the resort is anticipated to have a total of 57 km of trails built over the first 5 years that will cater to a full spectrum of ridership abilities with a focus on family and intermediate trails.
A network of trails
There are limitless opportunities to connect trails from the resort to other local trails and there could be a significant number of cross-country trails at the base of the mountain for a relaxing, recreational ride with the family or an opportunity to commute to work. A number of these interconnected trails would be free and accessible to everyone.
lift-accessible bike trails
Through its review, Gravity Logic has highlighted three lifts that are key to accessing an assortment of trails with varying difficulties and scenery:
One of the first lifts to be built, the gondola will provide access to the mountaintop restaurant and alpine terrain.
The mid-station would provide earlier-season biking on supreme beginner and intermediate terrain.
The top part of this lift will provide access to a “jaw-dropping selection of trails through the expansive subalpine” with incredible views in all directions.
The Beginner Lift
The beginner lift, located at the Village Base, will provide ideal terrain for beginner lessons, night rides, and potentially a permanent beginner slopestyle course.
Phase 2 Lift M
This lift is a 6-person chair currently planned for the second phase of the resort. However, Gravity Logic has proposed building this earlier for two reasons:
It provides access to excellent beginner and intermediate terrain that is separate from the areas accessible by the gondola.
It accesses terrain that faces south, which could be snow-free earlier than other areas of the mountain.
A VIABLE YEAR-ROUND RESORT
discount passes for locals
Getting feedback and involvement from the large local mountain biking community is essential to the success of the resort. Locals will be among those who ride these trails from when the snow melts to when the snow falls again. A generous season’s pass discount should keep the numbers high and the mountain busy for an extended season. Appealing to the broad range of riders, from families to world-class downhillers, will be an essential part of satisfying the local market.
Garibaldi will be perfect for day trips, weekend getaways, and longer stays due to its location and proximity to major hubs:
Vancouver - 1 hour away
YVR – 2 hours away
Seattle - 3.5 hours away
The report suggests that trails should be designed to attract overnight visitors in addition to local and single-day visitors to maximize profits. If the resort can offer high-quality and varied trails, visitors will stay longer and return sooner. Additionally, Garibaldi’s proximity to Whistler will also result in a mutually beneficial relationship since this cluster of bike parks will attract more visitors to the region. The BC Mountain Bike Tourism Study of 2016 noted that 56% of Whistler bike visitors stayed overnight and 60% were from outside of BC. With both bike parks in operation, we could see an uptick in these figures.
Of course, significant capital investment will be required to kick-start the bike trails and continue operations – approximately $3.7 million over 5 years.
However, Gravity Logic predicts that the resort will start showing an operating profit within three years due to two critical factors:
The number of visitors will grow exponentially each year over the first five years:
Year 1 9,500
Year 2 14,250
Year 3 21,375
Year 4 32,063
Year 5 48,094
Four key revenue streams will bring in cash flow:
To promote sales, the resort could offer travel packages that would include accommodation, tickets, rentals, lessons, and even airfare, similar to ski and board packages typically offered by resorts in the winter. There could also be packages for school groups, corporate trips, and other similar groups.
Another opportunity for direct revenue but more importantly exposure would be in hosting significant events. To bring international events to Garibaldi, a World Cup-level course could be designed into the plan from the start and provided to the Canadian team for training early and often.
Trails for Everyone
Similar to winter use plans for ski runs, the bike trails must be designed from the start to offer the ideal mix of trails to accommodate all types of riders, from family-friendly trails to trails for the expert downhill rider.
The trails will be designed with access for medical assistance in mind to ensure safety, as well as for maintenance to meet a high-level of environmental consideration. Like the rest of the mountain, the bike trails will have to meet the standards set out in the Environmental Assessment conditions.
Next Steps – We Want to Hear from You!
Following the publication of the report, we will be looking to engage the Squamish mountain bike community in-depth to get more feedback and to fill in more details on the plans so that we can create something special that adds significantly to what Squamish already offers. This feedback will then be incorporated into:
a chapter in the Resort Master Plan, and
the overall proforma.
Want to get involved?
Throughout the fall and winter seasons, the Garibaldi team is conducting small group presentations about the project to answer your questions and hear more about what you’d like to see in the design of the mountain bike park and beyond. If you have a team, office, or peer group that would be interested in learning more about the vision and process or would like to contribute to the plans and design, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to stay up-to-date on what is happening with the resort…
Sign up for our e-newsletters here
Follow us on Facebook at @SupportGaribaldiResort
Follow us on Instagram at @GaribaldiatSquamish
To view the full mountain bike feasibility report, click the report below: