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Small turn out for big resort development

Whistler open house first glimpse at revived Garibaldi at Squamish

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By Alison Taylor

Despite being one of the biggest developments proposed in the corridor, the Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) resort open house in Whistler drew just a small crowd.

Tuesday’s open house was the first public look at the latest plans for the multi-million four-season resort which will include a ski area similar to Big White, two world-class golf courses and more than 5,700 housing units at Brohm Ridge, on the edge of Squamish.

“This (the public consultation process) is just starting,” said Mike Esler, president and CEO of GAS.

Bryce Leigh, who sits on the recreation and conservation committee of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C., attended the open house. He has some concerns about the project, not the least of which is the fact that the master plan shows the development abuts Garibaldi Provincial Park boundaries.

He doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

Leigh explained that those park boundaries once stretched as far as mid-station in Creekside, but pressure from the Whistler ski development pushed the boundaries back. That’s a trend the organization does not want to see repeated at Brohm Ridge.

“That would be a big concern, if they suddenly start to march into the park,” said Leigh.

On a positive note, Leigh, who is also a member of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), said the development could remove the snowmobiling activity on the site.

The Black Tusk Snowmobile Club has tenure in Brohm Ridge.

Leigh is concerned that the club would get alternate tenure somewhere in the area.

The club, however, has its own ideas of how it can work with the development.

Reached by phone after the Whistler open house, club executive director Mike Blomfield, said they have had tenure in the area for more than 30 years.

The 200-member strong club is active in the area and estimate they have a $2 million a year impact in the local community.

It’s important not to destroy that economic and social network, said Blomfield.

If the resort moves ahead, the club sees tremendous opportunity to create something world-class for the snowmobiling community — a sled in/sled out community that could pass through the ski area development in a very controlled way, giving it access to lands beyond.

“Co-existence can work,” said Blomfield. “It’s a matter of laying it out properly so that you minimize risk.”

The club has put together a plan for co-existence and hopes to meet with the developers to discuss it.

“We need to ride through (the proposed resort) to alternate riding areas and there are some just to the north but they involve establishing a fairly tight corridor through the edge of Garibaldi Park,” said Blomfield.

Club members intended to go to the Squamish open house Wednesday evening.

A ski development at Brohm Ridge has long been in the works.

This latest plan has been developed with the help of majority investors Bob Gaglardi and Luigi Aquilini

Karl Ricker of the Whistler Naturalists was at Tuesday’s open house. Among his concerns was the impact of the golf course fertilizers on the watershed.

On the flip side, the long-time local said: “The obvious good feature of all this is it will take pressure off Whistler (to increase the development cap).

“This is a great relief valve.”

The public consultation period continues until Aug. 5. Comments can be e-mailed to eaoinfo@gov.bc.ca . If the environmental assessment process is successful, developers must then apply for a rezoning.

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