Update on 2017 Capital Projects


Editor's note: Did you know the ACC operates the largest network of backcountry huts in North America? The ACC facilities team have incorporated new digital technologies to help manage hut inventory and keep on top of maintenance and capital projects needs.

A number of new hut projects and renovations were undertaken in 2017 that are now being tracked using a digital inventory system that will assist the ACC in managing our hut system and capital projects efficiently. We spoke with Rick Gardiner, Facilities Director for the ACC to find out more about big plans for capital projects happening in 2017.

Inside Stanley Mitchell Hut. Photo by Leigh McClurg.

Inside Stanley Mitchell Hut. Photo by Leigh McClurg.

With over 50,000 hut overnights booked in 2016 alone, the desire for capital projects to keep our huts functioning — and even adding huts to our inventory in the mountains — requires balancing a unique set of challenges and being ready to grow with the popularity that the hut system continues to experience.

"We've been managing a significant inventory of huts for decades now, and this year is the first time we have been able to build a full assessment of all the ACC huts that is going to help facilitate longer-term planning," says Rick Gardiner, Facilities Director for the ACC. He reports that the new digital record management system that has been implemented as of 2017 has already proven to be a useful and efficient way to keep track of hut needs the short term and he is eager to see how it can help in long-term planning for capital projects.

Capital Projects Confirmed For 2017

The ACC and our board work together with stakeholders like Parks Canada and BC Parks to assess and determine the highest priority capital project needs. This year we will make the following significant improvements to five of our most popular huts:

Stanley Mitchell Hut: doubling the size of the wood shed.

A.O. Wheeler Hut: major heritage reno and drainage work.

Cameron Lake Cabin: adding a covered porch to the front of the cabin.

Bill Putnam (Fairy Meadow) Hut: complete work clearing the trail that was started in 2016.

Ben Ferris (Great Cairn) Hut: a new wood stove and new flooring will be installed.

In addition, plans for the next three years so far include the full replacement of the Castle Mountain Hut, an expansion to the Abbot Pass Hut kitchen, and the enclosure of the front deck space at Asulkan Cabin.

"We have built a really strong and facilities team — not to mention our office staff and board — and we're looking at some pretty exciting projects coming up," Rick says. "The on-the-ground facilities team has deep experience with carpentry and restoration, on-site management, outdoors and adventure work and it feels like all of the puzzle pieces are coming together to allow us to do a ton of great things in the next few years."

Restoring and Preserving Heritage Buildings

Of the 22 huts in the system currently managed by the ACC, five are over 40 years old and are considered to be heritage buildings by Canadian Heritage. Maintaining heritage buildings comes with a specific set of standards for repairs, restoration and preservation.

A.O. Wheeler Hut will undergo upgrades this year.

A.O. Wheeler Hut will undergo upgrades this year.

As mentioned above, this year the ACC is embarking on a major renovation of A.O. Wheeler Hut that includes lifting and repairing the foundation and a significant project to improve drainage around the hut — an issue that has caused damage to the foundation in the past.

All of this work will be done to Canadian Heritage standards in order to maintain the visual authenticity and historic value of the hut. In fact, we use Canadian Heritage standards when we work on all of our huts, regardless of whether they are considered to be heritage buildings yet. Projects like these come to life because of relationships with stakeholders and donors and the continued support and stoke for the work we do thanks to our amazing Alpine Club members.

Thank you to each of you who donated to the cause, supported this work through booking a hut, and who shared in our common story this year. We are proud to be part of this community and to have a hand in sharing all that these mountains have to offer!