Squamish Council passed a series of motions this week concerning the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish resort, including asking the province for a nine-month extension of Stage 1 in the Environmental Assessment process. The request for an extension is to allow the proponent, Garibaldi Alpen, to address sewer, water and other issues in Stage 1 of the EA process. "Stage 1 of the EA process essentially doesn’t allow for dialogue," Garibaldi Alpen Chairman Wolfgang Richter said prior to a public meeting on the proposal Tuesday in Whistler. "We put out our concept plan and people, or departments within the ministries ask questions, but we can’t answer. That’s the reason for the extension request." The Garibaldi at Squamish project entered the Environmental Assessment process in January with submission of the development concept. The company took an extra year before submitting its concept plan to try an answer as many questions as possible prior to entering the EA process. Stage 1 of the process provides a public review period, in Garibaldi’s case to the beginning of April. At that point the province will decide to reject the project, accept the project and issue a project approval certificate, or ask for additional information, in which case the project moves into Stage 2. Richter’s fear of Stage 2 is that there may be no time limit and the whole process may become bogged down as various ministerial departments decide they want studies done. "At what stage are you discussing ‘concept’ and at what stage are you in detailed, master plan stuff?" Richter asks. However, David Johns, project co-ordinator for the EA process, told approximately 35 people at Tuesday’s meeting that the Environmental Assessment Act is designed as a two-stage process. "All issues of impact and infringement have to be resolved in Stage 1 for approval at that stage," Johns said. While the Garibaldi concept was outlined at Tuesday’s meeting, there were several questions regarding the project’s economic viability. Craig MacKenzie, acting president of the Whistler Resort Association, noted there is still approximately one-third of Whistler to be developed and already the resort is restricted by the limited capacity of Highway 99. "How could the province approve (Garibaldi) without addressing the road?" MacKenzie asked. Peter Alder asked about the economic viability of the project when all the infrastructure has to be built. "Sun Peaks was an existing resort, which didn’t need the infrastructure, and has a very wealthy backer and it’s just barely going," Alder said. Richter replied that Garibaldi Alpen only has to be able "to afford the process we are in now. We don’t have to prove we have the financing to build the resort until three years after the master plan is done. "I have no complaints about the economy we’re in," Richter said. "The only thing holding back the project is the process." Several people from Squamish stated they welcomed the economic opportunities the project would bring Squamish residents.