Abandoned structures like this have been removed from the Forbidden Plateau Ski Hill at Wood Mountain in the Comox Valley. File photo

WATCH: Clean-up complete at abandoned Vancouver Island ski hill

Volunteers rid Forbidden Plateau of debris left over from defunct alpine operation

The mess at the abandoned ski hill site at Wood Mountain on Forbidden Plateau has been cleaned up for good.

Volunteers completed the first portion of remediation of the derelict site near the Comox Valley in the fall of 2017. They removed four buildings at the former park — including the ski hill’s main lodge — and two oil tanks that powered the ski lifts.

Work was limited in summer 2018 due to intense heat during fire season.

“This year, we got lucky with the weather and equipment and availability of manpower,” said Greg Sawchuck, chair of the Forbidden Plateau Reclamation Society. “I spent about 50 days up there this year. It worked out pretty good. We got it cleaned up, and done.”

The non-profit volunteer group received permission from the province in 2017 to remediate the Forbidden Plateau Ski Hill. Since closing its doors in 1999 following a ceiling collapse of the main ski lodge, the hill had housed abandoned structures marked with graffiti and a non-functioning chairlift.

“There was quite a bit of infrastructure there where the top bullwheel was,” Sawchuck said. “We left it as a monument to indicate where the ski lift ended. We took out the bottom infrastructure. It was quite a bit of work to take away the concrete foundation.”

To reach the area, volunteers needed to rehab the access road. Mike Hamilton offered his excavator for the job.

The team hauled out the chairlift towers by truck, and used a skidder to pull out two miles of cable.

“There were a number of individuals. They cut the cable to get the chairs,” Sawchuck said. “There were over 200 chairs, and we only ended up with eight or 10.”

The society is trying to raise money to pay for expenses. Sawchuck figures volunteers invested more than $200,000 worth of work.

“Every contractor stepped up and did it as a big community project. Most of them didn’t even take fuel money. There was wear and tear on their equipment. They were really fabulous. It was a big job by a lot of folks.”

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