Public support for the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort is running high, according to a poll of Whistler and Squamish residents and public comments received by the Environmental Assessment office. A poll conducted in March by MarkTrend Research for Garibaldi at Squamish found 90 per cent of Squamish residents and 85 per cent of Whistler residents said they support the proposed mountain resort. The telephone poll contacted 400 homes in Squamish and 100 homes in Whistler. Awareness of the proposed development is high — 99 per cent of Squamish residents and 86 per cent of Whistler residents told MarkTrend they knew of Garibaldi at Squamish. Squamish supporters of the proposal cite the number of jobs and the economic benefit the project is expected to bring to the area, while Whistler supporters like the idea of a recreational alternative to Whistler. Nine per cent of Squamish residents were opposed to the project, with most of those concerned about the economic viability of a resort competing with Whistler, the impact the project may have on the environment and a desire to keep Squamish the way it is. Concerns were also expressed about the treatment of waste water and the development’s impact on Highway 99. Whistler residents who opposed the project — 13 per cent of the 100 surveyed — were most concerned with Garibaldi at Squamish’s economic viability. The project’s impact on the environment and its interference with snowmobiling were also concerns among Whistler opponents. The Garibaldi at Squamish proposal is in the first stage of the Environmental Assessment process. The period for public comment on the project closed March 27. Nearly 1,300 letters of support for the project were received by the Environmental Assessment office between Jan. 12 and March 27. Forty letters opposing the project were received and 59 letters were classified as stating issues only. As well, 129 signatures on petitions opposing the project were received, while 11 signatures on petitions in support of the development were received. The Environmental Assessment office must make a recommendation within 40 days of the closing of the public review period. The recommendation can be to reject the proposal, approve the proposal or move on to Stage 2 of the process, where additional studies would be required. However, the District of Squamish has requested that Stage 1 be extended an additional nine months so that concerns raised during the public review period can be addressed. A decision on extending Stage 1 is expected by the end of April. Garibaldi Alpine, the company behind Garibaldi at Squamish, is hoping to win approval in Stage 1 of the Environmental Assessment process, because once a project enters Stage 2 there is no time limit and requests for studies can drag the process on for months.