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Garibaldi Springs park unveiled

District of Squamish council ask for changes; public information meeting on Feb. 13
Left: Kevin Shoemaker of Polygon. Right: Bruce Hemstock of PWL Associates, the designer of the park.

Fencing, coverage and environmental monitoring were some of the issues raised by council during their first look at the park space for Polygon’s upcoming Garibaldi Springs housing development.

The controversial project that was opposed by the Keep Garibaldi Green protest movement was approved by the previous council in October 2018 in a 4-3 decision. It will convert the former golf course by the Executive Suites Hotel into a housing development and a sprawling park.

One of the main selling points of the 310-unit development was the promise that 78% of the land, about 37.5 hectares, would be given to the municipality for ecological reserve and park use.

Municipal staff say that the developers will make about $4.4 million worth of ecological reserve and park improvements.

There will also be a trail network based on cart paths made when the area was formerly a golf course.

On Feb. 11, Polygon showcased its park proposals to council.

 “It’s a park for people who live in Squamish, and it’s a park for people who visit Squamish,” said Bruce Hemstock of PWL Partnership, the firm designing the park.

“I think the thing that’s really interesting for us is that it’s about ecology and it’s about teaching important it is to have natural systems.”

Amid the green space will be a “hub park,” which would be the central gathering area, as well as three smaller “pocket parks” spread throughout the area.

The hub park would be accessible via Tantalus Road and the shared driveway with the Executive Suites Hotel.

 It would have ponds, a bridge crossing, a bike hub, public washrooms, community gardens, and a children’s play area, among other things.

The pocket parks would be located along the main north-south trail running through the land.

 Seating areas, lookouts, fencing and interpretive signage are also planned, along with picnic areas, play structures and bike skills features, such as a pump track.

The plan is for 150 public parking spaces, with about 100  on Tantalus Road.

Mayor Karen Elliott noted some of the park locations were close to water and said it would be best to have fencing in the area to keep children away from danger.

“Given our younger demographic and the proximity to the patio, I can hear a lot of parents say, ‘Go play, I’m going to sit here and have a beer,’” said Elliott, noting that the hub park will be close to the Executive Suites Hotel. 

“So I actually think there will be significant amounts of benign neglect there.”

Coun. Jenna Stoner asked for covered spaces that were large enough to hold events for dozens of people. Currently, there are covered spaces in the proposed design, but they are intended more for families rather than crowds.

Stoner also wondered about monitoring for the environmental restoration work.

Kevin Shoemaker of Polygon said the company would put down a bond and Fisheries and Oceans would monitor the area for five years.

“At the end, we’d do all the final work that needs to get done, and we’ll turn it over to the District,” said Shoemaker. “By then, hopefully everything’s been established and it’s kind of self-sustaining — it doesn’t really need a lot of work.”

Stoner also asked for more variety of amenities. Perhaps one of the bike skills features could be removed and replaced with a climbing boulder to create more diversity, she suggested.

Coun. Armand Hurford wondered how the park could be connected to the District’s pedestrian and bike trail network, specifically the Corridor Trail.

Hemstock said it connects through Tantalus Road, but added that it was a tight fit because it’s near an ecological zone.

He acknowledged separating cyclists and pedestrians from vehicle traffic would be important, and that he’d look into the matter further.

A public information meeting on the park will be held on Feb. 13 at the Executive Suites Hotel Clubhouse on 40900 Tantalus Road from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.