This letter is in response to Max Bitel’s letter to the SLRD board, in The Squamish Chief last week, “Not a fan of GAS,” published Oct. 31.
Two weeks ago, the United Nations World Tourism Organization announced that 2018 marked the ninth consecutive year of growth in international tourism, with 1.4 billion tourists going on vacation in 2018.
As the recreational assets in the Sea to Sky Corridor continue to see growing visitation numbers year-round (not just in the ski season), the community needs to think holistically about how we prepare for the future. The strategies and approaches we develop for our outdoor recreation areas need to be tailored to our visitors if we are to be successful in accommodating the growing demand for tourism on the west coast, protecting our natural assets, and benefiting the local economy. Gravel road maintenance to the alpine is likely not enough.
The proposed all-season mountain resort on Brohm Ridge is in the advantaged position to do a few things no other mountain resort has done so far: deliver year-round infrastructure (like mountain biking) from the outset, and partner with the Squamish Nation. Part of our work with our Squamish Nation is to ensure that Indigenous Tourism is a fundamental cornerstone of the resort, including: hiking trail design, interpretive programming, place names, resort design, and careers in tourism.
As well, we aspire to be the lowest greenhouse gas emitting resort in North America. On top of that, we can pilot electric mode-share systems, and be a catalyst to improve transit on the Sea to Sky. We can also plan now for sufficient employee housing.
The opportunity to combine new green technology, lessons learned from other resorts, and partner with Squamish Nation to reclaim traditional places and share knowledge is unprecedented, and we are genuinely excited about it.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine something you haven’t seen. In the corridor, we have long been presented with a ‘Coke vs. Pepsi’ resort type of debate, but this approach is outdated and doesn’t help us prepare for the future.
To help shift the discussion, a suggestion is to think about examples like Vernon and Silverstar, or Kamloops and Sun Peaks, not for exact imitation, but in terms of the relationship between Squamish and the resort.
It’s not a suburb, it’s an outdoor recreation resort that will generate 2,000 construction jobs, 4,000 resort careers, and an estimated $50 million annually of tax contributions to the economy.
People continue to be drawn to the Sea to Sky Corridor, and recreation comes in all shapes and forms. What is the best way to accommodate a growing population in their wish to reconnect with nature by being in the mountains and forest?
What does a resilient and balanced community look like? How do we finance more outdoor recreation infrastructure? How do we put our best foot forward and adapt with courage, in this time of change?
Project director, Garibaldi at Squamish