Letters to the Editor | Squamish Chief

Letters to the Editor

Editor,I would like to respond to the suggestion from Beverly Cochrane, a resident of Paradise Valley, that we gather up all the addicts and put them on an island (The Chief, May 23). In the same week the sale of Woodfibre was reported. I found the coincidence fascinating.We are facing worldwide exposure to the consequences of addictive substances. This past winter I saw reports from the Gulf of the St.Lawrence to Tehran to Bangkok illuminating the infiltration of crack cocaine in all of these societies. I am convinced that these challenging issues of substance-afflicted people are global. I propose that examples of creative solutions we employ to deal with our local issues can extend far beyond the Sea To Sky corridor. Just as our solutions may be inspired by examples from other countries. Back to Ms.Cochran's suggestion: I think Woodfibre comes acceptably close to being an island. Is it such an incredible leap to imagine we might be able to follow through on her suggestion and create a community in Woodfibre based in rehabilitation? The San Patrignano therapeutic community in Italy is a good example. Addicts commit to up to five years of rehabilitation and reintegration in this highly regarded therapeutic community. The community is also independent, growing and producing it's food, raising championship horses and dogs and making reproduction furniture. We have, in my view a perfect circumstance to approach our version of this at Woodfibre. Woodfibre with virtually unlimited power and water, a deepwater port, exclusive access to the Tantalus Park, and a string of IPP applications could provide a variety of practical opportunities. The field of research into addiction and effective treatment options is current, vital and very appropriate to an isolated location. We could create at Woodfibre a therapeutic community based in rehabilitation coupled with research into solutions to these challenging social and personal issues. What an interesting distinction for Squamish as we integrate into our promising future. Thanks Ms. Cochrane.Riun BlackwellGaribaldi HighlandsGAS not good for economic diversityEditor,It is with great disappoint that I read of the Chamber's decision to support the GAS proposal. Environmental and social arguments aside, our business leaders of all people should know that the GAS proposal will not strengthen Squamish's economic well being. Squamish's economic mainstay was logging. With all of our eggs in one basket, the town was left in shambles when the major forestry companies and spin-off businesses divested from the area. Since this time Squamish has been working very hard to redefine its economic base. It would seem that an obvious lesson from this experience would be not to put all your eggs in one basket. A diverse economic base is a resilient economic base that can withstand market shifts. Why then are we even entertaining the idea of Garibaldi at Squamish? Tourism-based industry is a viable source of income for our town, and GAS can certainly offer this. Given the size of the proposal, however, it will inevitably come to define our town. Similar to other resort towns, all business will be dependent on the viability of the resort. Squamish is WELL on its way to a strong, diverse, economic base. As we incorporate new business sectors into our portfolio, and continue to support the sectors that we were founded upon, we are establishing a fresh foundation for future generations to prosper. Helicopter rides are dazzling, as is the idea of a quick fix to economic hardship. Quick, however, does not translate into strong, and I would encourage the Chamber to reconsider their decision, and support our town's efforts toward a sustainable future. Kimberley ArmourSquamishGAS 'sprawling mess'Editor,I'm a skier. I love skiing. I'd love to have a ski hill close to Squamish but the GAS proposal is really a sprawling mess of subdivisions with a ski hill and two golf courses tacked on to justify its existence according to the Commercial Alpine Skiing Policy.Every planned lift and golf course adds to the number of housing units that can be developed. That's why 25 lifts are planned for such a small area. Sun Peaks in Kamloops services a larger area with five lifts. Whistler Blackcomb, with probably 10 times the skiable terrain, only has approximately 25 lifts. The Commercial Alpine Skiing Policy has been subverted to put this development plan forward. The project itself is urban sprawl and to Squamish, it represents suburban sprawl.I think the bulk of the silent majority in Squamish recognize the GAS proposal as an unconscionable land grab by some very wealthy individuals with deep-rooted connections to the provincial government. The proponents are motivated by money and not what's best for the environment or the citizens of Squamish. Without a doubt, there would be some very good construction jobs during the building of the development, but once it's operable the ski hill and golf courses offer predominantly low-paying seasonal jobs. What we'll have is yet another bedroom community along the Sea to Sky highway in what was once prime outdoor recreation land. As for increasing our tax base, right now the area is outside the District of Squamish. The proponents could choose to seek resort municipality status, collect their own property taxes and simply lean on Squamish's infrastructure for its more basic, less glamorous needs.In last Friday's newspaper, Margo Dent, in speaking about the GAS proposal on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce observed, "We realize that there are some concerns and we trust that those will be take care of." Putting blind trust in a developer motivated by money strikes me as rather reckless and irresponsible. Putting pressure on the developer to address concerns such as the development's proximity to Brohm Lake and Cat Lake and the lack of Smart Growth planning seems to me o be the tact that responsible citizens and organizations in Squamish should be pursuing. Margo Dent's further assertion "If you oppose it, look into it maybe you just need to ask some questions," is quite insulting to individuals who have spent many hours reviewing the 1,000-plus page project proposal and associated documents and attended information sessions held by both proponents and opponents to the GAS proposal. The more I lean about this project, the more I'm against it. I'd like to see The Chief do some real reporting on the GAS proposal by publishing the master plan map and associated details (and perhaps a chart of the perceived pros and cons) with the headline "Here it is you decide."Matt ParkerSquamish Whistler could use the competitionEditor,Congratulations are in order for the Squamish Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of GAS. I am tired of hearing the Whistler winners moan about some long-needed competition.Maybe the not-so-rich will be able to enjoy a day on the slopes without taking out a bank loan ($75 lift ticket, $14 burgers and $8 beers.) A little competition never hurt anyone.Look at the Colorado ski industry for example: if you stuck a pin in Aspen on a map of Colorado and drew a circle about a two-hour drive around that location you would find no fewer than 10 ski areas, five of which are continually ranked right up there with Whistler. If these guys (Whistler-Backcomb) can spend $55 million on a lift (Peak to Peak) that serves no real purpose other than to be the only resort that has one, then they need a lot of competition. Come on you guys, the world is watching.Jim LormanSquamishChamber vs. GreeniesEditor,So now it's the Chamber of Commerce versus the Greenies (best said with a dismissive sneer). Luckily we Greenies have the level-headed, well-informed members of Save Garibaldi to crunch the numbers and detect the BS leaving me free to take the mickey and be righteously outraged while staying firmly this side of flakey. You never want to be a flakey Greenie.In his letter to the editor (Friday, May 23) Mr. Esler invites us to visit the "new temporary office located at 38036 Cleveland Ave. for an overview of the project." I was downtown on my bike today (Saturday May 24) so I thought I would check to see if GAS still plans to put the golf course clubhouse in the parking lot at Cat Lake.But at 38036 Cleveland there are newspapers over the windows. The store is as empty as GAS promises. Which is not surprising given Mr. Esler's apparent penchant for jumping the gun.Chamber members and other likely supporters were treated to a helicopter ride and a lavish party (actually I don't know if it was lavish - something with doughnuts) to bring them on side. Maybe GAS should take some of us Save Garibaldi Greenies up for a helicopter ride to see if we too can be convinced. Maybe not What was the name of that gold prospector?We are still here Mr. Esler, and just as determined as ever. No amount of spin in going to make this bold-faced real estate grab more palatable.Dorte FroslevBrackendaleGAS would cause sprawl: SECSEditor,The debate over the proposed merits and absolute deficiencies of GAS continues. The fact remains that the only new ski resort (Tamarack, Idaho) built in the last 30 years in the western U.S. recently declared bankruptcy. Other recently developed ski resorts in B.C. such as Revelstoke and Kicking Horse have been built onto previously existing infrastructure and developed from existing local ski hills. The infrastructure costs to develop and maintain GAS would be huge in the proposed challenging terrain. This suggests that the time for building resorts from scratch has past and the model is now unworkable.In addition, visits to BC from the U.S. continue to decline (11 per cent down this year to date compared to last - see Tourism BC). We are looking at a low elevation, poor terrain, bad weather, wet snow, resort compared to Whistler and the Interior world class models. Is Squamish willing to take on this enormous gamble and risk in tax burden?With single-family homes at GAS predicted to sell for $1.2 million, and town homes $750,000 this is out of reach for most people currently living in Squamish. Is this the kind of Squamish we want, a place where only wealthy investors can purchase a home? Squamish citizens care about affordability and a thriving vibrant town center. This proposed urban sprawl, for the sake of absentee investors, would radically change our community, not for the better. Our community is already building many new homes as well as tourism and professional opportunities in a way that fits our community scale and vision. Many businesses and individuals in town do not support GAS because they know that they can flourish well financially without destroying the very assets that bring us prosperity - our low impact outdoor recreation opportunities and beautiful setting. This is what a lot of people are living here for and this is what city visitors will keep coming back for. Sustainability is within reach, we only need to recognize it. We look forward to the Public Comment Meeting that was confirmed for June, announced a few weeks ago by Council, where residents will have an opportunity to be heard, enabling Council to take a position.Catherine Jackson Squamish Environmental Conservation Society

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