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Garibaldi ski resort proposal re-emerges

Squamish mayor committed to getting resort within boundaries

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By Cindy Filipenko

The proposed Garibaldi ski resort has reemerged, and in a hurry.

The proponents want to break ground next summer on a project that ultimately would have 22,000 bed units and just 24 ski runs. The proposal encompasses approximately 12,000 acres and has a budget of more than $800 million.

In the works for nearly 18 years, the Squamish-area project’s last serious plan was tabled in 1997. At that time, the proposal was to build a ski resort at Brohm Ridge that would be approximately 6,260 acres with predominantly commercial accommodation.

In 2002, the project was transferred to Vancouver developers Luigi Aquilini and Bob Gaglardi. Under the company name of Garibaldi at Squamish Inc., the developers entered negotiations with the province that were put on hold when court challenges from the Squamish Nation emerged.

With a settlement currently in the works between Garibaldi at Squamish and the Squamish Nation, the proposal has been brought forward again for consideration. It was a hot topic at Monday’s Squamish-Lillooet Regional District meeting.

Steve Olmstead, planner for the SLRD, cautioned that the project currently under consideration is far different than the one tabled in 1997.

“We have a development that is calling for 22,000 bed units. This is 40 per cent as large as Whistler,” said Olmstead. “We’re concerned that we’re   (staff) going to be involved in a very intensive process.”

Part of this intensity comes from the developer’s desire to break ground in July, 2007. The provincial environmental assessment is underway, a process that Olmstead described as a “180-day clock that has started to tick.”

The plan became known Oct. 11 at a preliminary application meeting attended by the District of Squamish and the SLRD, as the current footprint of the project falls under both jurisdictions.

Olmstead voiced the concern that the time limits may prove prohibitive due to the scope of work that needs to be undertaken to determine the feasibility of the project. He pointed out that environmental assessments also take into consideration the socio-economic impacts of development.

“That’s one area where materials from the mid-to-late ’90s could be quite out of date,” he said.

Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland noted that his community has had a number of meetings with the province over the years about this project, that the project has vast community support and would mean significant and long-lasting job creation for his community.

SLRD Chair John Turner, who is also director for Area D, the portion of the regional district potentially most affected by the project, was concerned about workload and project cost.

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