It’s a bit of a waiting game for the proponents and stakeholders of the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish year-round resort planned for Brohm Ridge.
“We are still in the Environmental Assessment review process. We think it will conclude by the end of November and then we will wait for the decision,” said Jim Chu, spokesperson for Garibaldi at Squamish.
Chu is the former chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department. He retired from the force in May and started with the proposed Squamish resort in July, he said.
Chu said project representatives have continued to meet with concerned Squamish community groups including the Squamish Dirt Bike Association, the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club and the Paradise Valley Community Association.
“We worked hard to emphasize our resort is sustainable and will preserve as much of the natural environment as possible,” Chu said of the meetings.
Asked if the groups and the proponents had come to an agreement, he said the meetings involved a sharing of information and “working towards mutually agreeable goals.”
Marg Huber, with the Paradise Valley group said members were cautiously optimistic after meetings with resort representatives in late August and early September.
“It didn’t resolve issues on well location, but many felt that the open discussion was useful in building a collaborative working understanding,” she said, adding many were pleased to see David Negrin, the president of Aquilini Development, meet with them.
Chu said the resort would continue to look for a water source that would work for everyone.
On Oct. 13, members of the snowmobile club presented the resort proponents with a proposal to co-exist on the mountain should the project get approval, according to Sam Grant, of the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club.
“We also presented the proponent with a proposal for [GAS] to pay for all costs if we have to relocate the Alpine Learning Centre to a new location,” Grant said.
“We did receive a reply back from Aquilini Development basically agreeing to negotiate with the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club should this pass the environmental review. We anticipate negotiations will ramp up if and when GAS gets environmental approval.”
This summer, representatives for the District of Squamish, Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District all filed submissions to the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) outlining concerns and objections to the resort’s supplemental application.
Chu said proponents want to work with local governments and Whistler to create a cluster of tourism destinations – “especially to access the growing Asian tourist market,” Chu said, adding the cluster effect has been seen in wineries in the Napa Valley.
“If there was only one winery there, why would people go there? When there are many wineries, everyone goes there.”
Chu said the proponents were working closely with the Squamish Nation.
According to Nation Chief Ian Campbell, the band is participating in government-to-government discussions with the B.C. government on the proposed resort.
“We are also taking part in the formal Environmental Assessment process in order to assess potential impacts on Squamish Nation interests,” Campbell said.
“But, as we understand it, there can be no formal approval for the proposal until an EA certificate has been issued.”
If provincial ministers give the green light to the project, the proponents will embark on further public consultation, according to Chu. “When we proceed to the master development process, we want to have the community give us input on how we build and develop this resort,” he said.
A Garibaldi at Squamish economic fact sheet showed close to 6,000 new jobs and $50 million in additional tax revenue would be created by the project.