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Will Garibaldi at Squamish be an unfulfilled promise, like Revelstoke?

Promised resort by GAS partner hasn’t materialized, say homeowners
Revelstoke resident and avid skier Peter Brown has a warning for Squamish in terms of Garibaldi at Squamish: have oversight of timelines, he says.

A group of Revelstoke homeowners say they offer a cautionary tale for Squamish residents and officials when it comes to the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish resort slated for Brohm Ridge.

Members of the Revelstoke Mountain Homeowners Association (RNHOA) say they have waited 10 years for the Northlands Properties proposed Revelstoke Mountain Resort to be completed with its promised 20 new lifts, 100 ski runs and 5,000 housing units.

So far, only the original three lifts and 56 runs are operating and fewer than 250 units of accommodation have come to fruition, say the homeowners.

Northlands Properties is also a partner in the $3.5 billion Garibaldi at Squamish resort, along with the Aquilini Group.

“With an election underway and similar resorts proposed for Valemount and Garibaldi near Squamish, it is time to reassess how these projects are monitored for compliance and what can be done to ensure the province of B.C. and local communities like Revelstoke maximize the benefits, especially when it comes to employment and tax revenue,” reads a news release from the association.

The homeowners say their experience is a warning to Squamish of what can happen if monitoring of timelines is not instilled in a project early on.

The 2,759-hectare, year-round Garibaldi at Squamish resort is set to include 23 ski lifts on 124 developed ski trails and 22,000 bed units of accommodation. Garibaldi at Squamish received its provincial environmental assessment in January of 2016.

A spokesperson for the provincial government told The Chief no comments would be made until after the election, May 9.

Garibaldi at Squamish’s president Jim Chu said the organization had “no comment on the Revelstoke issue.”

Spokesperson for the Revelstoke homeowners association, Peter Brown said he moved to Revelstoke from Fernie in 2010 specifically because of the planned $1.5 billion resort.

“We thought there would be some big announcement because it has been 10 years,” Brown told The Chief, explaining why the group wanted to come forward publicly now. “We are not seeing an investment into the hill as per the plan.”

The homeowners’ advice for the District of Squamish and residents is to demand some kind of timeline and monitoring of that timeline.

While he acknowledges the 2008 economic crash impacted the timelines of the Revelstoke project, Brown said he doesn’t want to see others go through what he has, moving because of a promised resort that may not materialize.

“I didn’t realize there wasn’t a monitoring system in place, a stewardship,” he said.

“The big thing I would recommend is the stewardship and that stewardship has to come from the government or the City of Squamish.”

Most of the Garibaldi at Squamish resort proposal falls under the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s jurisdiction, which has unanimously stood in opposition to the project.

Regardless, it can be tough for local governments to control timelines on such projects even if they are supportive of them, according to Mayor Patricia Heintzman, who is also an SLRD director. 

“From a lesson point of view, people can make all sorts of promises and it is really hard to guarantee them in a timeline, unless they are very clearly articulated that you can’t get occupancy until you deliver this, this or this,” she said.

It is useful, therefore, for local governments to “get as much as possible upfront,” she said. For example in the agreement with the development on the Oceanfront, the District installed in the agreement with Newport Beach Developments that the public park has to be built first.