Give us a chance to address your concerns and show you how this can benefit Squamish.
That was the key message from the proponents of the Garibaldi at Squamish resort project at last Thursday’s open house, where people heard a plea from the companies planning the 22,000-bed resort.
The resort would more than double the current population, if Squamish were to annex the land. Garibaldi at Squamish is planned as an affordable family-friendly, four-season resort that will offer properties starting at $169,000 – and up.
The $3.5 billion project is so large that residents fear the impacts on Squamish, where housing is already difficult to find. Garibaldi at Squamish CEO David Negrin pledged the company would work with Squamish Nation to lease land to build “attainable housing” that people with an income of $40,000 could buy.
It’s not surprising that Whistler Blackcomb is worried about Garibaldi at Squamish, given the competition for real estate and tourists the resort would create. Whistler lift tickets and properties have become so expensive that they are priced out of range for families on average incomes. Garibaldi would become a new place to play – skiing, mountain biking, hiking – with restaurants where families could enjoy a meal afterward.
Squamish Nation members, neighbours and others have expressed serious concerns about the project, including the displacement of wildlife, water and sewage treatment. Garibaldi is ancestral land to Squamish Nation members who want to protect it for future generations.
But people in Squamish should at least consider the proposal, which could bring economic benefits to a town that is quickly becoming a bedroom to Vancouver. After construction, about 2,500 full-time-equivalent jobs would remain, and the resort would bolster the tax base for all residents.
This might not be the right project for Squamish. But given that the proponents want to listen, we should give them a chance to answer our questions before saying no. This decision will be made by residents of Squamish and Squamish Nation. It should not be decided by people in Whistler, who have their own interests in mind.
– Editor Christine Endicott