The visionary behind the Garibaldi at Squamish resort is pressing ahead despite concerns expressed last week about the project proposal at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention.
Wolfgang Richter, the vice chairman of the company promoting Garibaldi at Squamish, called the 15-minute meeting involving B.C. environment minister Mary Polak, Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Whistler councillor Jack Crompton, the resort’s chief administrative officer Mike Furey and Pemberton mayor and regional MLA Jordan Sturdy a compliment of sorts.
“I’m flattered by the backhanded compliment,” Richter said after learning of the meeting to talk about his company’s proposed development just below Mount Garibaldi on Brohm Ridge.
Richter said Garibaldi at Squamish is currently working through a process imposed by the provincial government and that process is designed to address concerns with the project while also preventing the developers from being hit with unexpected government surprises.
“They put up hoops for us to jump through and we jump through them and as long as we stay within the confines of a process we’re also protected by that,” said Richter from his home in Whistler.
Richter believes Garibaldi at Squamish will make a positive contribution.
“There’s a billion dollar highway that the province paid for to help the Olympics along,” he said. “My sense is that it’s time for a new cash register along the highway to pay down that debt.”
One of the points Wilhelm-Morden made in the meeting with Polak is that the concept of having a cluster of mountain resorts won’t work here. Richter disagrees.
“More is better and clustering does work,” he said. “Adding new product, not more product, but new product to the mix will bring in more people from the international markets that are already coming.
“We will add to the mix and increase business overall, not just to our place but certainly to the province and to the corridor,” Richter said.
Wilhelm-Morden reminded Polak that Whistler generates $1.3 billion a year in gross domestic product and annual tax revenues of more than $400 million. The mayor also noted that 22.5 per cent of the entire annual tourism export revenue of British Columbia comes from Whistler and that Whistler is currently overbuilt.
The project proponents hope to have the environmental assessment work assigned by the provincial government completed by December at the latest. At least one more public update is expected before the assessment process wraps up.
Read about the meeting with Polak here and check back with Pique for ongoing coverage of Garibaldi at Squamish issues.