It will be like walking in the air.
Plans for a new 650-metre elevated wooden pathway just north of the Malahat Summit is expected to bring a world-class tourism experience to Southern Vancouver Island.
A.Spire by Nature, a new company led by two of the founding partners in the successful Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, and the Malahat Nation have partnered in the Malahat Skywalk project that intends to combine nature-based tourism with a cultural tourism experience.
The skywalk will see an elevated wooden pathway constructed through an Arbutus forest leading to a gentle accessible spiral ramp climbing up to a 40-metre high sightseeing lookout where visitors will witness magnificent views of the Finlayson Arm and distant coastal mountains.
George Harry Jr., a councillor with the Malahat Nation, on whose land the project will be built, said the Malahat Skywalk is a project that the First Nation is proud to partner on.
“Not only is it a tourism experience that speaks to sustainability and the connection to our land, but it will also provide opportunities for many generations of the Malahat Nation to come,” he said.
“We look forward to telling the stories of our people and welcoming the visitors to our community through the Malahat Skywalk experience.”
The rezoning application for the Malahat Skywalk has been submitted to the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the management plan has been submitted to the province.
The goal is to start construction in the fall with a proposed opening in June of 2020.
The proponents are now actively engaging with the local community and key stakeholders to inform and enhance the project through the design process.
The cost of the project has yet to be announced.
David Greenfield, a spokesman for A.Spire by Nature, a B.C.- based company that specializes in creating accessible, self-guided nature-based experiences in iconic locations, said the Malahat Skywalk is inspired by similar elevated forest walks that have been constructed in Europe.
“We want to bring the concept of an accessible, environmentally sound and culturally significant tourism experience to Vancouver Island,” he said.
“The Malahat Skywalk will offer opportunities for locals and visitors alike to immerse themselves in local storytelling, cultural celebration and natural interpretive education, as well as the stunning natural landscape and vistas of the Cowichan Valley and Finlayson Arm.”
Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, said he sees this new Malahat Skywalk being very popular with individual travellers, cruise visitors, tour operators and to meetings and incentive groups.
“Destination Greater Victoria works very closely with our partners at Tourism Cowichan Society and other partners to promote the Pacific Marine Circle Route with an ambition to become one of the leading touring routes in the world,” he said.
“This major new attraction will help to further cement this ambition.”