GAS proponents, opponents take to the web 

The future of the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) resort has taken to the web in recent weeks, with both the developers and their local opponents launching websites to support their points of view.

Proponents of the resort proposal — which includes a ski resort on Brohm Ridge, two golf courses, and more than 22,000 bed units — recently launched a website at www.garibaldiatsquamish.com that explains the scope of the project, outlines the benefits to the community, and answers questions that residents from the District of Squamish and regional district might have. There are also links to the most recent studies concerning the project, including a socioeconomic study and look at skier visits, as well as reports that support GAS and its environmental assessment application.

“This is our next step in reaching out to inform the community about the benefits of the project and how we are addressing the concerns and issues that have been raised through the EA (Environmental Assessment) process,” said GAS President and CEO Mike Esler.

“There is a huge amount of information about the project and this brings it together in one place for people to access more easily.

“There has been a considerable amount of planning and preparation to date and we continue to refine various elements in collaboration with the community, stakeholders, the EA office and provincial officials.”

On the other side of the debate, the Squamish Environmental Conservation Group has created a website at www.savegaribaldi.org that outlines their concerns over the project. Visitors are invited to sign a petition against the project and write letters of objection to developing the area. The petition is non-binding but will be sent to agencies in the provincial government involved with the approval process.

In the first few weeks the online petition has collected more than 325 “signatures”. No deadline has been set for letters or for signing the petition, but the group is planning a follow-up report in the new year.

The GAS project is currently tied up in the provincial government review process, which includes the Environmental Assessment process.

According to Jessica Reid, who helped to organize the petition, the objective of their campaign is to ask questions.

“Our main concern right now is that most people don’t realize the size or scope of the project,” she said. “They have a vague notion of a ski hill and think that could be good, but the size of this project is disconcerting and brings up a lot of issues, like water for example, and the viability of the ski hill itself.”

Reid says her group is not unanimously opposed to any development in the watershed, and that there is support for a ski hill or catskiing operations on Brohm Ridge.

“But 22,000 bed units 13 km up the road from Squamish, with two golf courses and basically another town — is that the best thing for Squamish? We need to get the word out, which was the impetus for the website. We wanted to make it easy for people to get information, and write letters and sign the petition to be heard.”

Under the Environmental Assessment Act, there is a 180-day time limit to review applications, but the Environmental Assessment Office can suspend the process at any point if it requires additional or updated information. The GAS application is currently suspended to give the proponents time to update some of the reports they are using for the assessment, some of which were based on information that was out of date.

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