GAS Redux: council asked to support the 1997 proposal 

In what seems like a last ditch effort to save the Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) resort proposal, the Friends of Garibaldi brought forward a motion to the District of Squamish, asking it to support the GAS proposal as it was first tabled in 1997.

"We want the District of Squamish to support the GAS project as envisioned in 1997 and work with the EA office and proponents to develop a plan that would meet the district's Smart Growth and sustainable land-use planning framework," said Richard Tripp, vice-president of Friends of Garibaldi.

Council rejected the motion, with Mayor Greg Gardner saying the council has responded to the current proposal as submitted by the proponent to the province.

The 1997 proposal is a pared down version for GAS with 2,000 fewer residential units, no golf courses, no development around the lakes, no highway development plan and no ski lifts.

This presentation to the council comes close on the heels of a June 11 decision by the Environmental Assessment Office, which said the information provided by the proponent was not sufficient with respect to potential adverse effects.

The EAO office gave GAS three years to provide more information on five crucial areas of the project: water supply and hydrology, fish and fish habitat, wildlife and wildlife habitat, vegetation and water reservoirs and dams.

Before the EAO's decision to send the proposal back to the proponents, the District of Squamish had also written to them on  April. 21 to ask that they deny GAS an environmental assessment certificate.

The Friends of the Garibaldi's presentation before the council was an acknowledgement of the fact that the current proposal, as it stands, has no support within the community.

The Friends of Garibaldi group was accompanied by one of the key shareholders, Wolfgang Richter, who has been working to get the GAS project up and running for 31 years now.

In fact, Richter was the main proponents of the 1997 plan, but as the developers changed over the years so did the plan until it became inflated into the four season resort opposed by environmentalists.

The original plan, however, had wide community support in the early 90s when it was believed to be just the buffer that Squamish needed as logging and other forestry jobs died out in Squamish.

On Tuesday, Richter and others were hoping the district would recognize the popularity of that earlier proposal.

"The current proposal is not popular. The good news is we are going to develop something that we already have. The previous proposal is economically viable and the district was in full support of that plan," Richter said.

He said the proponents are still recovering from the shock of the EAO decision, but said there might be a new proposal by the end of summer. He was critical of the council decision to not support the motion and said there is a possibility that the GAS proposal might just be scrapped.

"We'll let everybody wonder where we went. Money has other opportunities in this economy. (The proponents) don't need to come to Squamish," he said.

Councillor Corrine Lonsdale, who was the mayor of Squamish in 1997, said even then the proposal was accepted only in principle. She said in their presentation, the Friends of Garibaldi gave no information to the council on what the 1997 proposal looked like.

"How can they expect us to support them when it's not even the proposal in front of us?"

Jessica Reid, one of the members of Save Garibaldi, said even the 1997 proposal needed the project needs to be environmentally viable and there would be the same issues raised about water supply, highway access infrastructure, power supply, and roadway development.




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