Regional directors this week adopted zoning amendments for the Sea to Sky Gondola after staff assured lawmakers that the proponents could be compelled to meet covenants related to the project by attaching them to the issuance of a long-term lease with the Province.
The measure, adopted at Monday’s (June 25) Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board meeting in Pemberton, erases all but the final major regulatory hurdle for proponents of the gondola that would transport tourists to a ridge between Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls provincial parks — namely B.C. Parks’ issuance of a park use permit.
Moe Freitag, SLRD director for Electoral Area D, said after Monday’s meeting that when they passed third reading, lawmakers voiced the concern that because the proponents don’t own the land on which the top terminus of the gondola is to be built, lawmakers couldn’t hold them to their agreements by attaching them to the land’s title.
The land is to be leased from the Crown, and as such, SLRD officials aim to ask that the provincial government make the covenants — including provisions surrounding the construction of a one-kilometre interpretive trail near the top station and an interpretive signage plan — conditions of the lease agreement and/or management plan, according to a staff report.
“That passed without any real issues and it looks like they’ll be moving forward shortly,” Freitag said. Officials expect B.C. Parks boundary adjustments — redesignating some 2.7 hectares that’s now part of Stawamus Chief Park as provincially protected land — to take effect at the end of this month.
Waterworks decision deferred
The board deferred final approval of the Furry Creek Waterworks Mastar Plan until after Freitag and other officials have a chance to consult with residents on a key provision of the plan.
Furry Creek currently has 96 single-family and 56 multi-family units, but needs a larger water treatment facility to make way for the maximum 920 units that are allowed under its current land-use plan. Parklane Homes, the developer, has designated Lot 8 as the best location for the new plant, but there are concerns that the property may be too small to accommodate such a facility, according to a staff report.
The board deferred approval of the plan, which has been in the works since 2008, after Freitag said he would prefer to consult the community on a suitable alternate location for the plant. Freitag said he wants to be sure there’s a Plan B if Lot 8 proves not to be big enough for the plant.
“I agreed to go back to the community and ask what are the secondary options for that facility,” he said.
Skookum Creek TUP approved
The board also approved a temporary use permit (TUP) for the Skookum Creek run-of-river power project, clearing the way for construction of the 25-megawatt plant 12 kilometres west of Squamish.
The TUP comes with an $82,350 letter of credit to the SLRD should the proponent, Sea to Sky Power Corp., fail to sufficiently clean up when construction is complete.
Freitag said he is working with Sea to Sky Power’s parent firm, Run of River Power Inc. (ROR), to secure a “power provider” agreement with B.C. Hydro that would extend regular electricity service to constituents in Ring Creek.
The 40 of 50 residents of Ring Creek currently get their power from diesel generators, which is inefficient and isn’t reliable enough to run pumps for residents to get their water from wells, he said.
“ROR has committed to giving us a hand in exploring this. We don’t know if it’s going to cost $1 million or what, but this is something we want to explore for now or in the future,” he said.
Such an arrangement could also help the Squamish Nation move forward with plans to develop nearby property above Quest University that was secured in an agreement last year with the provincial government, Freitag said.