Province seeking feedback on Garibaldi at Squamish resort proposal 

The current public comment period closes on January 14

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Time is running out for those who have thoughts about a proposed four-season resort on Brohm Ridge. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is collecting comments as part of a public consultation process associated with the Garibaldi at Squamish proposal.

The resort project calls for a lift system on the ridge, two championship golf courses at lower elevations and residential developments on 1,200 hectares of land above Highway 99 just north of Squamish. The development proposal includes more than 1,700 hotel units and 5,736 housing units on Crown land between Alice Lake Provincial Park and Garibaldi Provincial Park. The project boundaries circle Cat Lake and push up against a portion of Brohm Lake.

The development team includes Wolfgang Richter, the visionary behind the proposal, with financial backing from the Aquilini and Gagliardi families, two prominent Vancouver families with a history of success in business.

The EAO is looking for comments on a Supplemental Application Information Requirements (SAIR) document due for submission to provincial leaders by June of 2014. The public comments gathered will be incorporated into the SAIR.

This public comment period closes on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

In the first few weeks of the pubic comment period 50 comments were accepted before Christmas. The vast majority of the people commenting so far have expressed opposition to the proposed development. The concerns include impacts on access to Cat Lake, commercialization of the backcountry, impacts on the snowmobile riders who currently have access to the Crown land, oversaturation of ski and snowboard operations in the region and a number of people label the proposal "a land grab."

During the Union of BC Municipalities convention last September, Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Whistler councillor Jack Crompton, the resort's chief administrative officer Mike Furey and Pemberton mayor and regional MLA Jordan Sturdy met with B.C. environment minister Mary Polak for 15 minutes to discuss their concerns around the GAS development.

However, Richter believes Garibaldi at Squamish will make a positive contribution.

"There's a billion-dollar highway that the province paid for to help the Olympics along," he told Pique in September. "My sense is that it's time for a new cash register along the highway to pay down that debt."

One of the points Wilhelm-Morden made in the meeting with Polak is that the concept of having a cluster of mountain resorts won't work here. Richter disagrees.

"More is better and clustering does work," he said. "Adding new product, not more product, but new product to the mix will bring in more people from the international markets that are already coming.

"We will add to the mix and increase business overall, not just to our place but certainly to the province and to the corridor," Richter said.

Details of the resort proposal can be found at www.eao.gov.bc.ca. The EAO is accepting feedback through an online form found at www.eao.gov.bc.ca/pcp/index.html or by sending a fax to 250-356-6448. Hand-written submissions can also be mailed to the EAO office in Victoria.

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