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Feature - Corridor dynamics

There’s much more than the Olympics and development projects on the horizon, there’s going to be a population shift



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One aspect of the corridor that much of the world doesn’t know about yet is the proximity of the ocean to the mountains. The top of Blackcomb is 7,500 feet above sea level; the base of the mountain is no more than 45 minutes by car from downtown Squamish and the ocean.

The president of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic organizing committee, Valentino Castellani, recognized this feature immediately when he came to Whistler a month ago as part of an Italian delegation. Castellani said the most spectacular thing about his visit was the concept of skiing "in front of the sea."

That relationship of sea and mountains will be exploited by the proposed Four Seasons Resort and ski area at Brohm Ridge.

If it is approved the resort – at buildout – is expected to cover 4,500 acres and operate 22 lifts. But there are still a number of parties who oppose the development. The Squamish Nation has filed a petition against the proposed resort, which is currently being heard in the B.C. Supreme Court.

The resort also has yet to win approval from Lands and Water B.C.

Despite these hurdles, Sutherland said he expects the resort to get some initial approvals by summer.

"They (the developers) have ambitious plans and I’m sure they’re going to try and get at least some of it open before the Olympics," he said.

The rush to finalize plans and open businesses before the Olympics will be immense. It is a phenomenon that must be co-ordinated and managed correctly.

Part of this management will be to look at projects and events in the corridor that drive business during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

Sean Languedoc, who is a spokesman for the factory outlet mall, said many of the proposed developments in Squamish are being designed to attract business during the shoulder seasons.

"We believe the highest population of visitors to our town will come from the Lower Mainland because there’s 2.4 million people in the Lower Mainland and no factory outlet mall, unless they want to cross the border," Languedoc said.

"It works for us because the shoulder seasons are when people want to buy everything. Pre-Christmas, pre-summer, pre-winter, pre-school are all shoulder season times but these times are also when people are looking to buy things and that’s when we think we can draw a significant amount of traffic up the highway (from Vancouver).

"Our studies show that in most cars that come up here there is at least three-plus people per vehicle and at least one of those people is not coming here to shop.