Bear Mountain’s developer Dan Matthews of Ecoasis Developments has a nice present for Jack Nicklaus on the golf champion’s 74th birthday:the future build-out of the Bear Mountain community will definitely include keeping the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort — Canada’s only Nicklaus Design 36-hole golf course.
“We’ve had a pretty vocal community on this,” says Matthews, managing partner and founder of Ecoasis, which purchased Bear Mountain’s 836 acres of lands and assets in October 2013 from Bear Mountain Land Holdings, an HSBC Bank Canada subsidiary which took over the property in 2010 after it went into creditor protection.We will make dramatic improvements,” adds Matthews, who has spent time meeting with and golfing with club members to learn their views. Course improvements announced today include increasing the course’s ground and maintenance budget by an estimated 60 per cent, removing the number 10 hole, effective January 27, and bringing hole 19 into play.
To appeal to a wider group of golfers, two returning nine’s will be offered on The Valley Course in 2014. “This will be great for the course, and the community,” says Jordan Ray, director of golf at Bear Mountain. “People are busy and we get asked all the time if it’s possible to play nine holes. Two returning 9’s will open up our facility to more golfers including young golfers who are the sport’s future. Even ‘the Golden Bear,’ our golf course architect, the legendary Jack Nicklaus, is looking at ways to grow the game.”
The golf course, says Matthews, is an integral part of his company’s vision to create Canada’s largest residential resort community. The company’s other resort projects include Kadenwood, a ski-in, ski-out community at Whistler, and the Hualalai Resort in Hawaii.
Matthews says the Ecoasis development plan for Bear Mountain also includes down-zoning and shelving plans for a series of multistory towers planned by the previous developers and Quigg Developments, in favour of multi-family residential with a maximum height of six storeys. “Maybe at the time [the towers] made sense,” Matthews says, “but actually I don’t think at any time it made sense.”
Work will also begin immediately on the build-out of Bear Mountain’s Upper Hedgestone neighbourhood, an expansion expected to bring 60 new residential golf course lots to market, starting this summer in phases. Pricing and builders’ packages will be available in the coming months. This is in addition to the 12 Lower Hedgestone lots of which Matthews notes, “I think we’ve sold more lots in the last few months than the bank sold in three years.
More Amenities for Bear Mountain
Commercial Additions: Matthews says increasing Bear Mountain’s commercial amenities are essential to creating community. That component will be developed over the next few months, in consultation with the community, and more details will be available when the master plan is announced, likely this summer.
More Golf Amenities: Two new golfer comfort stations will be phased in throughout the year, followed by two additional comfort stations in the next phase. The two slated for 2014 will replace the portable toilets on The Valley Course and the Snack Shack on the Mountain Course. Comfort stations will include washroom facilities, and food and beverage services complete with indoor and outdoor seating areas; these will also cater to the hikers and cyclists who will be using a new trail system being introduced for the summer of 2014.
Tennis Facility: Matthews says his company and Sporthost Victoria are exploring plans to build a covered tennis facility, the only one of its kind in the region, creating year-round tennis opportunities. “The Canadian government is really behind tennis and Canadians love tennis,” he says.
Bear Mountain Trails: The first of a network of hiking and cycling trails will be introduced around Bear Mountain’s Valley Course, starting in late spring. Originating at the Westin Bear Mountain, this Valley trail loops approximately 4.5 km and marks the beginning of a longer-term vision a three-loop trail system connecting the two courses with the village and adjacent neighbourhoods, and link into the network of hiking trails in the adjoining 300,000 acres of parklands.
Westin Upgrades: To fulfill the contractual agreement with the on-site Westin Hotel, Ecoasis will add a new outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre to the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa as part of a property improvement plan valued in excess of $4-million. The pool will be heated year round, will overlook The Valley Course, and will feature a grotto-style hot tub with an area of almost 250 square feet. Enhanced pool-area food and beverage service, and a series of fire pits and gathering places will be added. Construction will begin immediately; future plans call for the addition of a second adult-only hot tub off the back of the hotel.
Home Owners’ Card: Matthews and his team are currently working on a Home Owner’s Card to enable Bear Mountain residents the opportunity to enjoy amenities and privileges at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, the details of which are forthcoming.