Work began on Nowhere Special in April, and should be ready in time for the next ski season. Photo: John Boivin

Work began on Nowhere Special in April, and should be ready in time for the next ski season. Photo: John Boivin

New Rossland hostel financed by Columbia Basin Trust

Trusts’ investment powers community benefits

Visitors skiing at Rossland’s Red Mountain Resort will have a slightly more affordable sleeping option this winter.

The ski resort, in partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust, is building a state-of-the-art hostel for skiers on a budget.

Located two-minutes’ walk from the chairlift, Nowhere Special will have 82 beds catering to different needs for privacy and price, including two wheelchair-accessible units. A typical room at Nowhere Special will sleep four and share an en suite bathroom for up to eight.

The facility will also sport communal kitchens, secure indoor storage, a tech-friendly lounge and outdoor fire pits with gas grills.

“It is important to keep Red accessible for all and Nowhere Special will provide a great option for those who are on a budget when determining where to stay on their visit,” explains Red Mountain CEO Howard Katkov. “Further, we’ve made sure our approach and design to Nowhere Special makes it also one of the coolest place to stay.”

The hostel project is actually majority-owned by the Columbia Basin Trust, though the exact dollar amount of the investment is still being finalized.

Trust CEO Johnny Strilaeff says their staff saw the project as a solid investment in the community that will bring returns to the Trust.

“The new Josie Hotel will cater to a certain market, but there still appeared to be a gap for the market as the more cost-conscious consumer. A market of the younger individual, perhaps families, perhaps ski teams,” says Strilaeff, explaining how the Trust got involved. “We were talking about this opportunity [with Red Mountain], so that’s where the concept of Nowhere Special was born.

“What they saw as a gap in the market we see as well.”

While not as well-known as the social grants and community supports the Trust delivers throughout the year, Strilaeff says private investments like the budget hostel are how the Trust maintains the pot of money it grants for projects.

“This project falls very firmly into that investment space,” he says. “It’s not a grant, or a subsidy, it’s a commercial investment that we are making based on an opportunity, a very evident opportunity we see in Rossland.”

The Trust’s investment portfolio is nearing $1 billion, and new investments are growing by about $10 million to $20 million a year.

“The Trust at its heart is really no different from a foundation or endowment where you have part of your organization that has to invest money to generate a financial return that’s then used by another part of the organization to provide benefit to some body of beneficiaries,” he says. “In the case of the Trust, that’s the residents of this region.”

And Strilaeff says these projects, even the real estate and housing developments, fit in with the Trust’s larger goals. He notes that eight seniors housing projects the Trust has invested in also create better housing options for residents.

“[So] even though you enter into these investments purely to generate a financial return, the reality is when they are successful there are broader community benefits,” the CEO says. “And that’s something we’re particularly proud of.”

Nowhere Special broke ground in April, with a projected opening of December. And it may not be the last such project the Trust invests in, says Strilaeff.

“Nowhere Special for us is an interesting case, in that I am fully confident it will be a success in Rossland,” he says. “And I want to learn a bit more through the process to see if similar opportunity can be developed in other resort communities, where we’re hearing the same sort of demand or gap in the market.

“So the best-case scenario is this is a terrific success in Rossland, followed by similar projects in other communities.”