garibaldi 

By Bob Barnett Fish, mountain goats, grizzly bears, mining claims and global warming are some of the issues federal and provincial governments want Garibaldi Alpen Resorts to address before a project approval certificate is issued for the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish resort. "There’s a hypothetical plum dangling within everyone’s grasp, but if we’re not careful it’s going to get real bruised," Garibaldi Alpen’s Wolfgang Richter says in reference to the 74 pages of specifications the Environmental Assessment Office requires of the developers. Garibaldi has entered stage 2 of the province’s Environmental Assessment process, a stage Richter had hoped to avoid because other ski resort proposals have been caught in a seemingly endless series of studies. Richter and the project review team had agreed on a May 1999 deadline for the stage 2 review, but some of the studies required under the specifications may go beyond that date. One of the things that particularly offends Richter is the intrusion of federal ministries in the provincial Environmental Assessment process. "The provincial co-ordinator gets pushed around like the FBI pushing around a small town sheriff," Richter says. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans became involved in the review because the project may have an impact on fish habitat. DFO’s involvement also triggered a review of the project by the Canadian Environmental Assessment process. "It’s pervasive. It’s scary," Richter says of the federal government’s involvement. Bob Miles, Garibaldi’s vice president of administration and project development, estimates it will cost $1 million for consultants to do all the studies required under the specifications, some of which involve global issues. "The federal government wants information on global warming and its likely impact on climate change," Miles says. "We’re doing their work." The mountain goat study alone may cause Garibaldi to miss its May 1999 deadline, Miles says. The project specifications say that three lifts proposed by Garibaldi may have impacts on mountain goats that winter in the area. The impacts range from "the placement and operation of Lift Pod G..." to "The top of Lift Pod H may be visible to the mountain goats utilizing the Cheekye Drainage in winter/spring." To determine the project’s potential impact on grizzly bears a 240,000 ha. area will have to be studied. As for the mining claims, Miles says the province was supposed to put a no-staking reserve on the site when Garibaldi submitted its expression of interest. That wasn’t done and there are now three mineral claims on the site, which the province says Garibaldi must deal with. In addition to these issues some of the other studies Garibaldi must complete include the project’s impact on Highway 99, identification of potential adverse impacts on Squamish Nation interests and plans for disposal of solid and liquid waste. Richter says the list of conditions and studies required by the Environmental Assessment Office create uncertainty, which doesn’t bolster confidence among investors. "This is a creative endeavour. By the time I get this approved I may have to sell out," he says. Garibaldi submitted its expression of interest to the province in February, 1995, although Richter has been working on the project for years. Once Garibaldi completes all the studies it could still take another six months before the Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks and the Minister of Employment and Investment certify the project. Richter is also unhappy with the lack of support from some members of Squamish council, particularly given the closure of mills which has led to difficult economic times in Squamish. "I’m disappointed with them. I don’t know whose interest they’re serving, other than their own," he says. "I have to wonder what their agenda is."

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