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Zipline Adventures in Chase, BC
Sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that aims to have as little impact as possible on the environment and culture of the local area. Sustainable tourism also aims to provide long-term employment for the local community as well as a point of interest or experience that educates tourists in an engaging, fun way about the characteristics of the area. Zip lining is one example of sustainable tourism, and communities far and wide, from Saint Lucia to Costa Rica, are finding that developing a ziplining adventure in their area provides a tourist attraction while having minimal impact on the environment.
Soon after Tree Top Flyers opened in Chase Canyon in May, 2012, we were there, parked in the gravel lot behind Chase Arena, waiting to gear up with a group of 10 for our training run on the Flying Fox.
Bachelor of Tourism Graduate Turns Entrepreneur
Daniel Luzic stood behind the cash register and helped me sign in. We had booked effortlessly on-line the week before, and I was glad we had, for the group was full and they were adding extra groups to pick up the overflow. Since opening two months ago, they have been running five tours a day, every two hours, and need to expand the schedule.
After graduating 3 years ago from the Bachelor of Tourism Management Program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), Daniel has been working in the winter season at Sun Peaks Resort. The idea for the Zipline business came from a project he had completed with a classmate for a course, which required students to come up with a business concept and create a business plan. Because of the small class sizes at TRU, it was easy for the instructor to notice their work and encourage them to submit the plan to an international business competition, the Tony Brower Innovation Exposition, which they won in 2010.
Daniel and his partner, Matt Lepp, first pitched the project for real at Sun Peaks, where they met Ron Betts, who also became a business partner. A better opportunity presented itself in Chase, in 2011, which was looking for sustainable tourism projects to diversify its economic base and position Chase as an attractive destination. After negotiating with the provincial government for land tenure, undergoing an environmental assessment, and complying with strict construction and operating Safety guidelines set by the BC Safety Authority, Tree Top Flyers was ready to go.
Open from the May long weekend to the end of October, their goal is to have 4,000 visitors in their first season. In their first month, they had 800. With close proximity to the Trans Canada Highway, where 18,000 cars drive by daily in peak summer season, and with advertising on billboards, TV, the internet, social media, especially Facebook, the local tourist office and businesses, and word of mouth, the business is off and running and set for a great first season.
The Zip Line Tour
Tree Top Flyers zip line tour lasts about two hours, costs $65/person and runs on three lines. It is great fun for an afternoon adventure.
The first short line, Flying Fox is the training line, about 55 feet above the ground. After completing this run, patrons load the van for a ten-minute drive up the forest access road to Chase Canyon, located between the local mountains Scatchard and Boysee. Here there are two lines, about 300 feet above the steep canyon walls and the lip of the waterfalls.
The day we went, the Creek was still in spate with meltwater from the late, rainy spring that had brought floods to many areas in the Shuswap region. The third line runs very fast downhill over the waterfall. Early in the spring, Daniel and his friends asked an RCMP officer to come and clock them with the radar gun used for identifying speeding drivers. It was a slow day in a small village, and the officer came out to check if any one was speeding in that part of the Trans Canada Highway. All in his day's work, he clocked a couple of zipliners racing downhill on the third line at about 60 kilometers/hour (25 miles/hour).
I just about panicked at that point in my run, but there's no way out once you start. I understood the importance of all the safety drilling on the landing position, for with the feet raised, flyers hit the spring-loaded impact cushion, and stop comfortably. Nevertheless, there is a sensation of significant impact on landing.
Chase Canyon Waterfall
Chase Canyon Wall in late afternoon
Fun Things to Do on Vacation Near Chase, BC
Local attractions include
- the Squilax First Nations PowWow in the third week of July every year
- a houseboat rental on the warm Lake Shuswap. Four nights in peak season in early August costs about $2,200 with Twin Anchors Houseboats for a basic Cruiser boat that sleeps 6.
- the Adams River salmon run in late September/ October. The river is red with salmon who swim up the Fraser River from the Pacific Ocean to spawn and die in the streams where they were born about 7 years earlier.
- Whitewater rafting on the Adams River with Adams River Rafting takes about 3 hours and costs $65/adult
- golfing at Talking Rock Golf Course
- wine tasting in nearby wineries of the Similkimeen and Okanagan regions
History of Chase, BC
The area has been settled for ten thousand years by Secwpemc First Nations people, anglicized as Shuswap. This nation comprises 17 bands whose traditional territory covers 145,040 square km, a large part of the southern interior region of British Columbia. Their un-extinguished land rights continue to impact the economic, social and political life of contemporary British Columbia.
The Village of Chase, now a community of population 2,600, is named for Whitfield Chase, an American immigrant from New York State. He first arrived in the area seeking gold in the 1858 Fraser Gold Rush, and settled on the Shuswap Prairie, near the modern-day village of Chase, in 1865. He was the first non-native settler that farmed in the district and raised a family. Together with his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter of of the local Neskonlith First Nations band Chief Synsetia, Whitfield Chase raised 10 children.
After the Gold Rush ended, lumber and logging were the main industry in the region between 1907 and 2005. With the opening of the hospital in 1910, the first doctor arrived. Dr. Walter Scatchard had been born in Yorkshire, England, in 1861, and died in Chase in 1947. One of the two local mountains, Mount Scatchard, is named for him.
Since the last local lumber mill closed in 2005, ranching and tourism are the main economic activities, and the town is looking for ways to diversify tourist attractions while preserving its environment and cultural heritage.
Chase has been the location for several films, including The X-Files, The Sweet Hereafter, and Bird on a Wire.