News » Whistler

Court ruling on Garibaldi ski resort proposal only a first step

Squamish Nation say they were not properly consulted



A pivotal decision on the future of the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort outside Squamish is expected on Sept. 27.

B.C. Supreme court Justice Madam Marvyn Koenigsberg will rule on whether Land and Water B.C., and therefore the resort proponents, Luigi Aquilini and Bob Gaglardi, need to consult further with the Squamish Nation in relation to their ski resort development proposal.

The judge is also expected to detail how Land and Water B.C. and the proponents are to engage in consultation with First Nations.

This judgement is a step in a long process but it’s significant because it will affect how quickly Land and Water B.C. and the proponents are able to process the project’s environmental assessment application. The new deadline for this application is Dec. 31.

Both sides appear to be anticipating a ruling that will require further consultation. Perhaps more importantly, Justice Koenigsberg’s ruling may instruct Land and Water B.C. on how to consult with the Squamish Nation.

Vice President of Land and Water B.C., Jim Yardley, said the government agency was in court with this proposal, instead of the proponents, because it is the responsibility of Land and Water B.C. and the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), to decide weather the project proceeds.

"So the proponents are very interested parties in this litigation but really what the Squamish (Nation) are trying to do is restrain LWBC and the EAO from approving the project at this point in time," said Yardley.

"And it’s hard to know where this is heading.

"Mr Aquilina and Mr. Gaglardi are still the proponents for the project but the issue that we’re facing is how to deal with First Nations’ interests in the area and we’ve had extensive discussions with the Squamish First Nations about the project.

"We’ve been involved in a court case with them about the project but we’re not sure how it will resolve itself."

Lawyer for the Squamish Nation, Greg McDade, was adamant that his clients have spiritual ties to the land in question, at Brohm Ridge, north of Squamish.

"I think what we can say is the question is not whether this can proceed without the Squamish Nation being accommodated, because that’s the very issue that’s in court," said McDade.

"We’re in the middle of the regulatory process and the next step is the environmental assessment.

"But the bigger question is should it even be in this process at all?

"The Squamish Nation should have been consulted and accommodated in 2002 when this thing re-started. If we’re successful in our claim it should force the government to start over."