By Kate Borucz
Since the founding of Revelstoke in 1880, Mt. Begbie has offered a powerful mountain vista that has inspired generations to explore the outdoors. Its presence dominates the landscape with its broad peaks and picturesque glaciers that have been used as a place of recreation and contemplation for over 100 years.
Since the first ascent was completed in 1907, hiking through the dense forest and arriving at the base of the glacier has been a right of passage for Revelstoke residents. People of all ages can connect through their shared experience of breaking through the canopy and reaching the slopes below the glacier. It is an intergenerational wilderness adventure that unites Revelstokians young and old.
The currently undeveloped sub-alpine rocky slopes and meadows offer idyllic camping with an unparalleled view of town and the Columbia River Valley. This is a well used area by hikers, mountaineers and skiers who make the trek up through the prolific old growth to an already established camping area. These users appreciate this place because of its profound beauty and the experience of being in the backcountry so close to their home. The development of a hut and a chalet on these slopes would threaten the historical connection with the natural landscape of Revelstoke’s iconic mountain.
Mt. Begbie’s importance to the identity of Revelstoke can be seen by the sheer amount of businesses and organizations that use its likeness for their branding. A photo or a silhouette of the mountain can immediately be attributed to Revelstoke and its rugged natural beauty. Walking around town it can be challenging to go five minutes without seeing a photo, logo, or name of a business that refers to our most prominent peak.
It is clear the City of Revelstoke and the Province of BC recognize the importance of maintaining the natural characteristic of Mt. Begbie as outlined in the Revelstoke and Area Land Use Plan, pg. 151 “Mt. Begbie area (north of Mulvehill Creek) to be maintained for public recreation with no structures other than trail facilities.” This area has been seen as a place for public use when the land use plan was drafted, and it should still be recognized as that today.
As of now, the local reaction to this project has been overwhelmingly negative, an indication of the public sentiment that it should be left in its natural state. The notion of developing large structures on such an iconic landmark seems counterintuitive to what the residents of Revelstoke cherish and value. It is hard to imagine looking up from town on a beautiful snowy morning and seeing a “16 person European style alpine style chalet with private rooms, ensuites and down duvets”.
Mt. Begbie is more than just a mountain, it is the quintessential landmark of our town. It is the symbol of the freedom that wild places offer. It is the logo of many businesses and organizations, and its photo is taken by every tourist who is fortunate enough to see it through a break in the clouds.
A development on the scale of the Begbie Alpine Chalets would challenge the notion that Revelstoke is a town committed to preserving accessible wild places for future generations. It is imperative that Mt. Begbie is protected to show that some places are too important to be exploited for profit.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the NCES membership,