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Squamish: Don’t give GAS an Environmental Assessment Certificate

Council says resort proponents not in touch with community

In a strongly worded letter, the District of Squamish has advised the province to deny Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) an environmental assessment certificate.

It's the first time the council has taken such an emphatic and unanimous stand on the process, detailing its concerns, from water to wildlife habitat, to the size, scale and the layout of the proposed four-season ski resort on Brohm Ridge.

"Many of us have been saying to them (GAS) to get in touch with this community. Come and talk to us. They need to get better with this," Councillor Corrine Lonsdale said Tuesday.

Her comments were echoed by Mayor Greg Gardner and all other councillors who said GAS proponents are not providing basic, fundamental information about the project. Councillor Doug Race said the proposal had wide ranging support from the community when it was first planned as a small ski resort in the '90s. But now, he said, it has ballooned into a massive project with severe repercussions for the community.

"We are talking about 1,480 single family homes and 1,675 hotel rooms. This is a significant development and we don't have the information on issues such as water. These are fundamental issues, not fine points that we can discuss later," Race said.

The district says it has made "repeated" representations to GAS, saying the information on adequate supply of water is incomplete, but to no avail. Similarly, the district says it has "insufficient" information to reasonably determine how fish, vegetation and wildlife habitat would be affected by the resort. The proposed resort doesn't meet the smart growth plan of the district either.

The district also weighed in on the economic aspects of the project, saying the proponents are being "speculative" and "extremely optimistic" about the economic benefits of the project. The district has commissioned an independent study on the economic benefits of the proposed resort, which would be released soon.


Squamish property taxes to increase 3.8 per cent

The property tax rates for Squamish will increase by 3.8 per cent, spread evenly across the classes.

Of all the different classes, the mill rate for ports and utilities is set by the province, while the residential and the industrial mill rates are set by the municipality.

"All in all, I think it's a fairly modest increase," Councillor Doug Race said.

To encourage investment in Squamish, the district is considering lowering the mill rate for light industrial and heavy industrial.

The 2010 operating budget for Squamish is approximately $23 million, $16.5 million of which is funded by municipal property taxes with the balance coming from user fees and government transfers.


Squamish Sustainability Corp. debt paid off

The District of Squamish accepted a staff recommendation to contribute $120,000 of its 2009 surplus towards paying off the debt of the Squamish Sustainability Corporation, an arms length wholly owned entity of the District of Squamish.

SSC operates the Adventure Centre, which acts as a portal for tourism and business development.

The district will also move another $50,000 from its surplus to pay down the SSC's line of credit.