An application that would licence the Garibaldi at Squamish (G@S) resort to draw water from two local creeks and store it in reservoirs to use year-round does not have the support of Squamish District Council.
Councillors voted unanimously to send a letter in opposition of the water licence application to the Ministry of the Environment, in response to the ministry's invitation for comment by the District of Squamish.
Mick Gottardi, director of community development for the district, explained why the staff recommended that course of action, while making it clear that Squamish still has no official position on the G@S development as a whole.
"The issues we have with the water licence application surround a number of the water supply issues for the development proposal," he said. "We would not support the issuance of a licence at this time. The reason for that is that there are some very substantive issues... both in terms of the amount of water the development at buildout will need and the ability of the tributaries to supply that water."
The G@S application would allow the development to draw water from two creeks that feed into the Brohm River during the freshet period when water levels are highest, between May and June. That water would be stored in huge reservoirs that would supply potable water to up to 5,700 homes, water for landscaping, irrigation for public areas and two proposed golf courses, and snowmaking for the proposed ski area.
"In our view there are some fundamental issues that need to be understood well before developing a water licence and going forward with a development proposal," said Gottardi. "To supply water on that basis is unusual. It's not necessarily not viable, but the data that supports that method of extracting that water is pretty limited at this time. We have only two years of monitoring on the tributaries."
Gottardi said more information is needed, including historical records on precipitation, trends on watersheds in similar geoclimatic zones, and professional opinions on storing such a huge amount of water.
The deadline to comment on the water licence application by G@S proponents is Oct. 9.
Infrastructure money flows into Squamish
The District of Squamish is gearing up to spend $2,587,298 on infrastructure upgrades in the community, with funding from the federal Building Canada Fund and Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. The province and district will match one-third of that amount for a total of over $3.8 million in upgrades.
The biggest share of the grant money will go towards the construction of a one kilometre sewer line on the Government Road Trunk Sewer Main, expanding the capacity of the existing line in anticipation of more growth and development in the area. That accounts for $2,030,950 of the total.