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VIEW FROM THE FENCE: Resort proposal lives another day

An interesting thing happened on Dec. 23.

An interesting thing happened on Dec. 23. While most of us were getting set for the annual Chris Klaus visit, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) was putting together a nice little holiday gift for the people now in control of the Garibaldi at Squamish project.

Until Dec. 23, the deadline for the proponents to submit their final EAO documents was set for Dec. 31, 2003. The day a new group of investors wrestled control of the project I wondered if the new régime could revamp the project in time for the tight deadlines that were set out. A number of lawsuits filed after the change in control made an already tight set of deadlines look tighter. On top of that, the province rejected an application for more Crown land.

Apparently, my suspicion was right. They didn't have enough time to get their new plans in order and into the hands of the EAO.

On Dec. 23, the executive director of the EAO, Joan Hesketh, signed a one-page document that extended the deadline from Dec. 31, 2003 to June 30, 2004.

Nice. An extra six months.

An extra six months for a project that supposedly wasn't getting any more deadline extensions. An extra six months for a project that went through a very thorough public process that included a great deal of feedback that was used, one would hope, to make the project better.

Luigi Aquilini and Bob Gaglardi are the pair who took control of the project. We don't know very much about their project because they haven't allowed much access to their plans. I was able to get a glimpse early last year and the proposal I saw is different from the proposal that went through an exhaustive public process in the late 1990s. That plan called for the vast majority of the development to take place at high elevations. There was no golf course.

The new plan I saw called for a large parking lot near Hwy. 99 and a lift system that started at that low elevation parking lot. The plan also called for two golf courses. The developers want one course to surround Cat Lake and the other to include land on the east side of Hwy. 99.

I make no judgment on the new development scheme. It very well may be stronger than the original plan. We can't know that until the plan is laid out for us the way the original plan was.

This is an issue to watch. The new plan needs to go through public consultation. If it doesn't and the province gives the project a green light, who knows what surprises could pop up during construction.

If the project is a good one, let it stand public scrutiny and let's get on with it - assuming, of course the lawsuits don't kill it.

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