G@S water study expected in March 

Credit crunch not an issue for proposed resort

There's a difference between silence and inactivity. Though Garibaldi at Squamish (G@S) hasn't made many headlines in the past few months, the proponents have been tooling the water study needed to reboot the environmental assessment process.

"We need to have the full modeling done before the environmental assessment office will allow us to get back into an official recommencement of the process," said CEO Mike Esler. "The timing thereof? Probably not until sometime in March. In my opinion, and our engineers', there's ample supply."

The proposed all-season resort - a controversial one that envisions two golf courses, a ski resort and over 22,000 bed units in the area near Cat Lake - hopes to draw water from Brohm River, as well as ground sources.

"There's more than enough from either source to supply the project without having negative impacts on the fishery," continued Esler.

Since day one, G@S has riled the environmental community. Green advocates have labeled the project unsustainable and caustic to the surrounding ecosystem. The Squamish Environmental Conservation Society has been leading that charge.

"We're certainly happy to talk to them," said Esler. "They'll be part of the process, though we won't necessarily have direct meetings with them. But all the issues they've brought up will be directly addressed. In our view, we are building the most sustainable project we possibly can. But what people have to understand is there are physical restrictions on our site. You cannot develop certain components of our study area. It's not feasible. You can only build ski runs in certain areas. You can only build golf courses in certain areas. There are unique characteristics to the mountain in that it was a former volcano that blew 50,000 years ago."

Once the assessment process is re-launched, public consultation will begin anew. Last year, the proponents secured support from the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, as well as former district councillor Jeff McKenzie.

The new council has yet to take a position, though a fiscal and economic impact study was recently commissioned.

Esler also said the global economic crisis, though gloomy at best, will not adversely affect the project, as earth will not be broken in the near the future.

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