The provincial government has given Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) the green light, paving the way forward for another ski resort in the Sea to Sky corridor.
Environment Minister Mary Polak and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson issued an environmental certificate for the project Friday afternoon. A decision had been expected by the Monday, Feb. 1 deadline.
This is a project Whistler - and others in the corridor - has long been opposed to, loudly voicing its concerns to provincial government in the last year. GAS is designed as a four-season resort - a multi-billion and multi-phased project to be built over several decades. It will include more than 22,000 bed units of housing in various forms from single-family homes to hotels and pensions.
Following the provincial decision, Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell outlined some of the benefits to the Squamish Nation which include: revenue sharing, real estate opportunities, employment/training/contracting as well as a 10 per cent stake in the project.
The ministers included 40 conditions attached to the environmental assessment certificate.
• limiting the rate of groundwater withdrawal from the Paradise Valley aquifer;
• completing a Brohm River Management Plan to ensure the project does not affect that river, and
• providing at least 10 per cent of the resort bed units as employee housing to address adverse effects from potential increase in housing costs and shortages of rental accommodation in Squamish.
There are other "significant" approval steps that the GAS project must complete before it can move forward, not the least of which is an amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy which requires approval from all municipalities in the regional district, including Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.
Pick up Pique on Thursday for more on this story.