Squamish could become home to Canada’s second Great Wolf Lodge, a waterpark-theme resort.
The Squamish Chief has learned that the Jim Pattison Group has purchased a two-acre portion of a parcel on an Aspen Road site in Squamish with plans to build a hotel.
Most Great Wolf Lodge locations are spread throughout the U.S., although there is currently one Canadian site in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Michael Lee, a vice-president at Pattison and spokesperson for real estate development, acknowledged the company purchased the property, although he could not confirm that the proposed development would be a Great Wolf Lodge, assuming it proceeds. “It’s still very preliminary,” he said. “We’re doing some early investigation to see if it would be viable for the concept.”
The Jim Pattison Group does operate the other Canadian location. According to the Great Wolf website, the resorts offer not only the large waterparks but activities for children and parents including child spas offering manicures and pedicures, fitness facilities, Northwoods Restaurants and other dining options, as well as standard and cabin-themed hotel suites.
At present, the Pattison Group would have to go through local processes such as rezoning, as well as meet the conceptual approval of what Lee said is a hotel group. The project would also require further land purchases.
Lee said work is underway to explore the concept, and the company is hopeful it can advance the project enough to provide more details a year from now. If the project does not work out, the Pattison Group could look at other types of development for the site it has purchased, although Lee stressed it is too early to suggest any particular outcome.
“We’re actively exploring it now,” he said. “We definitely like Squamish.”
Mayor Patricia Heintzman said the idea has moved beyond the rumour stage, but she confirmed plans are still in the early stages and have not come before council for rezoning.
“They have been looking at Squamish for a couple of months. My understanding is that we’re sort of on a shortlist,” she said. “They have been showing a great deal of interest in Squamish for a good six, seven months now.”
Heintzman said the developers have not yet submitted any documents to the planning department.
Her understanding is that an operation the scale of a Great Wolf Lodge could result in 400 full-time equivalent jobs.
“It’s a huge employer,” she added.
Great Wolf Lodge is the world’s largest chain of indoor water parks. The company is based in Madison, Wisc., and there are more than a dozen locations in the U.S., as well as the one in Ontario.
The Jim Pattison Group is a Vancouver-based diversified holding company with automotive, advertising, media, agricultural equipment, food and beverage, entertainment, exporting, financial, real estate and periodical distribution operations. It is the second largest private company in Canada.
In 2013, The Financial Post reported Pattison was Canada’s richest person with a fortune of US$9.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.