Adventure park construction to begin next month

In the coming months, helicopters will be lifting huge logs with metal cables high above Mt. Sima Ski Resort. But the scene will have nothing to do with a logging operation...

In the coming months, helicopters will be lifting huge logs with metal cables high above Mt. Sima Ski Resort. But the scene will have nothing to do with a logging operation; the timber logs will be getting delivered, not extracted.

WildPlay Element Parks will be breaking ground for Mt. Sima’s adventure park, WildPlay Yukon, in about two weeks. The construction process will go through the summer and the park is scheduled to open next spring.

“The Mt. Sima group and WildPlay have been working diligently at design and engineering and we’re going to have a really exciting adventure park built,” said Katherine Walker, director of network development with WildPlay. “It’s going to be built all summer and opening will be following spring.

“There’s a significant marketing and staffing cost related to opening. And the construction and engineering signoff, testing and all that will take a good part of the summer.”

WildPlay already runs four adventure parks, in Nanaimo, Victoria, Whistler and Maple Ridge, BC, but the Whitehorse park will be different from the rest.

Other than being the first WildPlay operation outside of BC, the Yukon adventure park will not be built using trees in the area. Instead, the park’s main structure will be built with large timber poles, permanently anchored into bedrock.

“Down in the BC area we are lucky to have nice big Douglas firs, which are perfect for building on,” said Walker. “Up there the trees are not sufficient, and they are not strong enough either, so we won’t be using any of the trees.

“Our building company has built other parks on poles,” she added. “We also have a mobile unit that uses timbers.”

The creation of the part is the result of two injections from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (Cannor) last year. Cannor first ponied up $49,000 last April to conduct a “feasibility study.” Deeming the location suitable for a park, Cannor then invested an additional $1,555,880 for the park last July.

“I’m delighted that we are transitioning from a winter-only business to year-round,” said Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society that oversees Sima’s operations. “We have lots of exciting things in store and stay tuned.”

The park will consist of two attractions.

The timber poles will be used to construct the main structure, a “Monkido” play area (a contraction of “monkey see, monkey do”) just north of the chalet. Ranging from easy, children’s courses to difficult, adult courses, Monkido will feature, “zip-lines, rope swings, tight-wire, wobbly bridges – you name it,” said Walker. “And it gets progressively higher up in the tree-canopy. I’d say up to 55 or 60 feet.

“You start low, get your confidence, and you progress. You get higher in the trees and the games get a bit longer and more challenging. And there are different exit points, so if you find you have had enough – you met your challenge quotient – you can descend.”

The other attraction will be a series of two ZOOM Zip-lines (a brand name), with one going from the summit of Sima near the top of the chairlift to an adjacent peak, then a shorter line to a spot closer to the chalet.

The long zip-line is expected to be so long and high – one of the longest in North America at close to a kilometre – the airspace surrounding the line will have to be closed to prevent a collision with aircraft.

“This is not zip-lining for the faint of heart; this is tear your socks off, 80-90 kilometres an hour, zip-lines,” said Walker. “It is going to be a very, very exciting activity for thrill seekers and those people who really want to challenge themselves, in terms of height and speed.”

While the construction process this summer will be one of the final steps towards turning the ski resort into a self-sufficient, year-round operation, ironically it will prevent another summer time initiative.

Last summer, Mt. Sima installed three downhill mountain biking trails for the first time, transporting riders to the summit with the chairlift a few days a week. Though mountain biking will be reintroduced in the future, said Hougen, this season’s downhill riding has been cancelled.

“We are going to have so much construction going on this year – I think we are going to have as many as eight ATCO trailers up there,” said Hougen. “If they want to put on an event (such as the one-day Slamfest), we can work with them to make that happen. But to run a three- or four-day service, we’re not going to do that this year. But it is in our plans and we will be doing that in the future.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com