cayoosh 

Raine submits Cayoosh project report Long road to approval may be coming to an end By Bob Barnett After nine years and $2 million worth of studies and research, Al Raine may have finally satisfied government officials his Cayoosh Resort proposal should go ahead. Raine submitted his 1,300 page project report this week. By mid-July the province’s Environmental Assessment office will decide whether the report is complete or deficient. If it addresses all the issues, which Raine feels it does, he could have an Environmental Assessment certificate by October or November. A master development agreement would still have to be negotiated with the province, and financing for development of the resort would have to be found, but Raine feels he could be on site doing ground work for the resort next summer — the first major ski area development in North America since Blackcomb and Beaver Creek were opened in 1980. (Nakiska opened in 1986-87 but it was developed specifically for the 1988 Winter Olympics.) If that timeline holds up it would be 2002 or 2003 before Cayoosh opened to the public for skiing and boarding. "It’s one of the more emotional things I’ve ever done," Raine said, reflecting on the past nine years of work. Several times he was ready to abandon the project out of frustration with a bureaucracy that kept demanding more studies and a process which seemed to invite objections. And while every office and department could find faults, there was no office or agency to take an overview of the whole project. Last year the province commissioned its own independent study of the Cayoosh area, to determine its viability as a ski area and its market potential. That study, done by Whistler’s Brent Harley and Associates and submitted in January, concluded Raine’s project was economically viable, subject to the cost of the access road. Ainsworth Lumber has cutting rights in the Melvin Creek drainage and has agreed to work with Raine. The forest service road Ainsworth will build into the hanging valley will eventually become the access road to the resort. Ainsworth has also agreed to cut trees according to Raine’s plans for ski runs. Raine said last week he is "cautiously optimistic," but admitted there is still a long way to go even if his project report is accepted. Among the key issues are First Nations’ rights and negotiating a master development agreement with the province. As well, while the province has in the last 12 months given all kinds of indications it is encouraging ski area development, ski areas in the Sea to Sky Corridor could become a hot political potato, depending on the outcome of the Powder Mountain law suit and resolution of Garibaldi at Squamish’s financial problems. Several Native bands have claimed the Cayoosh area as part of their traditional territories. Some of those bands are in treaty negotiations, while others have rejected the entire treaty negotiation process. Raine feels a lease agreement for the proposed resort area could be reached even if the issue of land ownership remains unresolved. The Lillooet Tribal Council, representing most of the area’s bands, has supported Cayoosh in principle. Concurrent to the province’s review of Raine’s submission, the St’at’imc Nation, representing most bands in the region, has commissioned its own study to assess Raine’s Cayoosh proposal. That report is expected to be completed by early fall. Raine has been studying the Melvin Creek area, north-west of Duffey Lake, since 1990. He submitted his initial application for the right to develop the Cayoosh Resort to the province in August 1991. In February, 1992 his application was selected (one other proposal for the area was submitted), but it took more than three years before an interim agreement could be reached with the province outlining the steps toward a final agreement. The Cayoosh proposal entered the Environmental Assessment review process in December of 1996. In October of 1997 the Environmental Assessment office issued its project specifications — specific areas of concern or issues that needed studying. The project report submitted this week is Raine’s response to each of those concerns and issues.

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