Garibaldi at Squamish has asked if Squamish wants in on its project. The company has formally asked the District to examine the impacts of extending its boundaries to include the project, which has become a lightning rod for debate on development and environmental impact among locals.
“What it really brings is a means to have a say in how the resort is developed,” said Rod MacLeod, vice president of planning for Garibaldi at Squamish.
“If we go a different direction, then Squamish doesn’t get the taxation revenue and our intention is to have the resort go ahead anyway, but then you lose control of what happens there. The control will be exercised by somebody else.”
During an appearance in council chambers on July 9, proponents of the project asked councillors to direct staff to conduct a report outlining the impacts of this idea.
Council did not grant that wish, but instead unanimously voted in favour of referring the matter to staff for consideration in next year’s budget, while also asking them to look into how the District’s unresolved questions on the project could play into the matter.
The vote was 6-0. Coun. Doug Race was absent.
Mayor Karen Elliott wondered why the company would ask the District to consider making a report on boundary extensions when there are still a number of what she considers unanswered questions with respect to the project.
She said the last council had already expressed reservations about Garibaldi at Squamish, and she considered these issues unaddressed. “If we go back to council’s submission to the [Environmental Assessment Office] in 2015, it said that we didn’t feel that the proponent met the fundamental requirements of the EA process, including basic issues such as water supply, fundamental project viability — which is the failure scenario — and socioeconomic impacts,” said Elliott.
“The District’s always felt that boundary extension is putting the cart before the horse. So these fundamental things are unanswered.”
MacLeod said the company was willing to pay for the study and hire the consultants, though he noted there might be a perception of bias among the public.
However, councillors said if the report were to go ahead, it would be best to have District staff oversee the study.
This could involve Garibaldi at Squamish paying the bill but the District choosing the consultant and maintaining supervision over the work.
Garibaldi at Squamish would also align with the District’s climate change priorities, as it would create a local place for many Squamish residents to work, reducing commuting, added MacLeod, who formerly worked for the District of Squamish, last holding the post of director of engineering until he retired in 2016.
Coun. Chris Pettingill said that the decrease in commuting time would be offset by the extra traffic from more tourism.
Coun. Armand Hurford wondered if climate change could be a factor that affects the project.
MacLeod said the base area of the village has been moved up to 1,100 metres to get where the snow is. He added there’d be more work done on looking at mountain biking and hiking for the resort.
It’s hard to tell what will happen because climate models haven’t been consistent, MacLeod said.
Squamish Nation hereditary Chief Ian Campbell, who was also at the meeting, said the Nation is in favour of the development.
“We remain steadfast in our support for the project, the jobs, the careers, procurement opportunities, as well as the recreational values for all of our young people to have a future in this part of the world brings tremendous benefit,” said Campbell.
“We don’t carte blanche support the municipal boundary expansion. I think it has to be based on terms of reference and scope that Squamish Nation will certainly want to participate in.”
Squamish Nation Coun. Deborah Baker also spoke in support of the project at the meeting.