New staff accommodation under construction
ARTICLE FROM SUN PEAKS INDEPENDENT NEWS
The distinct red-roofed hostel near the bottom of the Burfield chairlift welcomed visitors to their vacations and locals home for many years.
The morning of May 20, construction crews gathered, and by the end of the day the hostel had been demolished. All that remained was a deep hole and a pile of rubble.
Some on social media expressed sadness at the loss and even the hostel’s owner Ash Hanna said a part of him was emotional at seeing it go. But plans to redevelop the site meant the rounded roof and 38 beds inside had to go, and Hanna is looking forward to the next stage.
By the end of November 2017 he said he hopes to have most of the construction complete, ready just in time for the new ski season and arriving staff. The new building will house 90 people, including much needed accommodation for resort and village staff.
Hanna’s mother and brother had been searching for a lake house in interior B.C. 13 years ago when they stumbled across Sun Peaks and the hostel, which was for sale. One excited call to Hanna later and it was theirs.
His brother managed it for many years but eventually it was up to Hanna to own and run the business while his family split their time between Australia and Sun Peaks.
Hanna said he started to think about changing or refreshing the hostel but the 2008 recession hit the area.
“I thought ‘I’ll leave it the way it is,’” he said. “I thought about selling but it was not the ideal time.”
In November 2015, he said he started thinking of change again. “I went to an architect and I said ‘let’s see what we can do with the property,’” he said. “We knew it was due for renovation, it was tired. The old girl stood there for a long time without any drama.”
Hanna said he looked at many options before settling on the final plan. Residential units, apartments or a new hostel were all considered. He said meetings with the municipality told him high density housing was needed.
His first application for residential units was declined by council because of insufficient parking so he went back to the drawing board and continued working with municipal staff.
Finally Hanna settled on a mixed-use building, combining hostel beds with staff accommodation.
Council approved of the idea quickly, telling him during a May 2 Special Council Meeting, “You’ve been approved, now get on with it.”
Designed in pods that include groups of two, four or six beds with a communal living space, private pods that sleep four, family suites and private one and two bedroom apartments, there will be a total of 35 suites to sleep 90 people on three floors.
Hanna said he already has interest from businesses to lease space for staff members, but assured those loyal to the only hostel on the mountain that many beds for short-term visitors will still exist.
Last fall many staff members arriving in Sun Peaks were challenged to find housing. In response Sun Peaks Resort LLP created 50 temporary beds for their staff but more are needed for their employees and other local businesses’ employees.
“I’m very excited about it,” Hanna said. “We’re the first in the Burfield area to redevelop and I’m hoping it’s going to… encourage development. To help to develop what I see as the west village of Sun Peaks.”
While other investments may be more profitable, Hanna said he is confident in the growth of Sun Peaks, and as someone who has been involved in the community a long time, he thinks it is the right thing to do.
“It’s designed very much to support the wellbeing of the mountain. Sun Peaks specifically is not the most lucrative investment. But the reason you invest in a place like Sun Peaks is because you have a sense of enjoyment. It has been a part of my life for over a decade and it meets a community need.”
Hanna said he is happy his family has been involved in creating memories many remember fondly later in life and he can’t wait to continue that.
“I just think it’s great for the mountain and we’re hoping to make it as fun as possible.”