There's a fine middle ground between tossing up a plywood & sheetmetal emergency shelter for a couple grand, like the early BCMC / VOC cabins, and pouring millions into a backcountry Hilton.
A great example of that middle ground would be Elfin, which is in great shape after 40 years of harsh weather conditions. Or the new BCMC hut at Watersprite, the budget for which is under $60k. The old ACC certainly didn't drop mad cash building Abbot Pass back in the 20's and it remains an utter delight to visit a century later, and I might as well namedrop the Conrad Kain hut here too since it's still rock solid and cost nothing compared to this absurd proposal.
This is outrageously unnecessary and a sad waste of money. Confusingly most ACC huts aren't even that fancy, so I don't know where $1.25m per hut could possibly be spent.
I'm not involved with either project but I think they are both good projects and I trust the people that are putting them together.
Here are both proposals (I believe there have been some changes since these documents were created):
A few things to note:
- The Russet Hut will have about 10 times as many bed-nights per year as Watersprite so some things are more expensive. (e.g. It's a larger building, there is a need to install a water tank/pump instead of everyone melting water, there is a caretaker room, etc.)
- The Russet Hut is in a park and I have no doubt that leads to increased needs for surveying, environmental precautions, etc. (e.g. they will fly out human waste instead of having a pit toilet. Toilet/greywater system capital costs for Russet are estimated at $25,000 vs $500 for Watersprite outhouse)
- The Spearhead Hut proposal counts in-kind (volunteer hours, etc.) in the total cost number and I don't think the BCMC proposal does (maybe I am reading that wrong.)
There is no doubt the Russet Hut will be more luxurious than the Waterprite Hut (see page 19 int the ACC proposal,) but once you factor in everything else, the project costs seem appropriate.
My concern with the project is ensuring that access remains fair for all users. I'd like to have seen a guarantee that the WB backcountry access pass (one ride up) is locked in at a certain price (e.g. 25% of the cost of a full-day lift ticket) and also a guarantee that BC Parks would continue to invest in upgrading/fixing/maintaining the Singing Pass trail. I'm worried about the risk that volunteers/donors build the huts but then it becomes increasingly impractical to access the hut if you aren't a paying WB customer.