The Sea to Sky Corridor needs complete, connected communities for its residents, not a surf park resort.
Complete communities are self-sufficient, with multiple residential options and services like a medical centre, school, daycare, and grocery store. They are connected by alternative transportation options. Complete communities do not force residents to rely on their acars to access the places they need to go.
Tigerbay is proposing a 269,000 square-foot surf park resort in South Britannia, including multiple hotels holding 190 tourist accommodation units, and 1,050 residential units. This proposed development is not a complete community with the infrastructure to support it, and the surf park is an unnecessary environmental impact on the region.
Tigerbay boasts that this will be a “community independent from Vancouver and Whistler yet just minutes away from both.” This is the problem. This development would create a satellite community that is highway dependent on Squamish and Vancouver.
Currently, Britannia Beach isn’t serviced by transit. Even if it were to be serviced in the future, it will always be a location where the majority of people likely rely on vehicles to get to Squamish or Vancouver. Despite the development plan including some commercial, community, and office space, residents would still be dependent on Squamish or Vancouver for school, work, and other facilities that do not exist in Britannia. It is a car-dependent location through and through.
For health and environmental reasons, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) must limit the sprawl of development. The SLRD should concentrate on infill and complete communities that are connected to the town cores through alternative transportation options. As many studies show, time spent in your car means decreased quality of life and increased greenhouse gas. We need to focus on developing communities that don’t tie people to their vehicles.
Not that residents need any reminding, but this is one of the rainiest places in Canada. Not exactly the ideal poolside vacation spot. Tigerbay and Wavegarden have never built a surf park in Canada. I wonder if they know that we don’t lounge on patios in swimsuits in February here. This is not Melbourne. Let’s develop communities that make sense for our climate.
The Sea to Sky thrives on its nature-based tourism industry. We don’t need to engineer a resort to attract tourism. The Sea to Sky is an outdoor mecca where nature-based tourism excels. Nature-based tourism has a small environmental impact, whereas this resort would have a much more significant impact on the environment.
The six-acre surf park would produce over 1,000 waves per hour. This gigantic outdoor wave pool and surrounding resort would require an enormous amount of energy.
With a different development, this site could be an opportunity to turn Britannia into a self-sufficient community. For a community that doesn’t have anywhere to buy groceries, a wave pool is not the priority. With a land base that is becoming increasingly limited, we must be more selective with development. Let’s choose development that serves Sea to Sky communities, rather than a niche tourism market. If you agree, write the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to oppose Tigerbay’s development proposal.
Stephanie Pawluk is a Squamish resident, currently pursuing a master’s degree in community planning and a graduate of UBC in environmental geography.