South Surrey, Squamish vie for $150M Great Wolf Lodge resort

Great Wolf Lodge confirms it was subject of state-of-city address

Following last month’s state-of-the-city address by Mayor Linda Hepner revealing her desire to fast-track a water park resort in South Surrey, Great Wolf Lodge vice-president Keith Simmonds confirms the company is considering the area as a possible location.

“Our company sees a strong potential for a water park resort in British Columbia,” Simmonds told Peace Arch News Tuesday in a phone interview from the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“We’ve been looking at potential locations for a while. We have nothing secured or finalized at this point of time.”

Minimal details of the water park were unveiled through Hepner’s May 18 announcement of a 10-year economic growth strategy. She said a $150-million, 400-room hotel and water park resort would have “transformative potential” for the community and is a priority for her.

She said only that the idea came from Jim Pattison Development Group.

JPDG purchased exclusive franchise rights to the Great Wolf Lodge brand in Canada in 2004. Currently, there’s only one Great Wolf Lodge in the country.

Discussions about Great Wolf Lodge coming to B.C. can be traced back to 2015. At that time, the Squamish Chief newspaper reported that JPDG had purchased a two-acre parcel of land in Squamish for a hotel, but required more land for the resort. The Chief also reported that although GWL was looking at other areas, Squamish was the priority location.

Simmonds confirmed Squamish is an area being considered for a GWL.

Director of communications for Great Wolf Lodge Jason Lasecki, based out of Chicago, told PAN Wednesday evening that the company continually seeks opportunities to expand the brand, “however, at this point it is premature to speculate on the potential of us developing a Great Wolf Lodge in the South Surrey area.”

District of Squamish director of planning Jonas Velaniskis told PAN Tuesday that although representatives from GWL made a presentation to District of Squamish council, “nothing has been set in stone.”

Velaniskis said JPDG is still in the process of acquiring parcels of land, which are owned by multiple parties including the district and province.

“Usually it takes a long time to make a transaction happen, especially on the Crown parcels,” Velaniskis said. “That was the last time I heard about it. It’s been a couple months since we heard anything about it moving forward.”

City of Surrey’s communications manager Oliver Lum told PAN this week that the city is not prepared to release the specific location in South Surrey that’s being considered, or any further details on the project.