Parks Canada to demolish Glacier Park Lodge at Rogers Pass

Parks Canada has announced they are now responsible for Glacier Park Lodge at Rogers Pass and are planning to level the building. The federal government has emerged as the owner after a protracted court battle involving several parties.

Glacier Park Lodge aerial view. Photo: Glacier Park Lodge website screenshot

Parks Canada has announced that they are going to demolish Glacier Park Lodge at Rogers Pass.

The announcement came in a media release on Oct. 19.

The popular lodge located at the Rogers Pass visitor centre closed in 2009 and again in 2012 and was the subject of a complex legal battle as several parties with interest in the privately-run lodge disputed in the courts. In the meantime, the lodge’s condition deteriorated, accumulating graffiti and other visible wear and tear.

In the Oct. 19 announcement, Parks Canada said they are now in control of the property, which included a former service station.

In an interview with the Mountaineer, Parks Canada spokesperson Shelley Bird said that Parks staff were on site at the lodge today securing the building and making sure it was safe.

Parks has already determined they will demolish the lodge, and not make attempts to repair or renovate it. “The buildings are beyond repair at this point,” Bird said.

Parks employees board up Glacier Park Lodge. Photo: Parks Canada
Parks employees board up Glacier Park Lodge. Photo: Parks Canada

In a statement, Parks Canada said the next steps will be to remove the buildings, remediate the sites and draft plans for any redevelopment in the area.

“Any potential redevelopment will involve public engagement and consider present and future summer and winter services, visitor safety, and cultural and natural resource management requirements,” Parks Canada stated.

Bird said the Parks Canada is planning to hold an open house in Revelstoke on Nov. 5 where residents can provide input on Glacier Park Lodge and other Parks initiatives, such as their conservation, recreation, species at risk and federal infrastructure programs. The meeting is not solely about Glacier Park Lodge. The meeting is from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Revelstoke Community Centre.

“That will be an opportunity for people to find out more,” Bird said. “People are always welcome to provide feedback or suggestions.”

Projects on the go in the Rogers Pass area include Trans-Canada Highway improvements, a new permanent washroom facility adjacent to the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and upgrades to aging water and sewer infrastructure.

Park superintendent view

Will a similar lodge be built to replace Glacier Park Lodge? Judging from an interview with Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks superintendent Nick Irving, it seems unlikely.

Irving said the business case for the lodge wasn’t the same as in the past, when avalanche control would often mean closures lasting a day or more. He also said that adding a fuel station also seemed unlikely because requests for gas at the Pass are not that common these days.

“It is not something that Parks Canada is actively pursuing,” Irving said, adding that Parks Canada is “not in the restaurant or hotel business.”

However, that doesn’t mean there will be no accommodation there. Irving said there is a demand for roofed accommodation, in addition to traditional camping spots.

One addition that is likely is more room for pooling vehicles during highway closures, Irving said, adding that the need was “critical.”

As for the future development of the site, Irving said they would be embarking on a process to determine “the present and future needs of Canadians” and that would include consultations, but likely at a later date. For now, Irving said he couldn’t “leap to a place where we say we are going.” There is no fixed timeline for the demolition and future plans for the site.

Irving said that the total capital projects underway in the Parks totals between $25 and $27 million, not including highway works such as paving, drainage improvements and curve improvements, which totals more than $150 million.