Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) Has till June to Submit Additional Info

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A public meeting on Dec. 18 at West Coast Railway Heritage Park saw a steady trickle of people comment on the proposed project.
Pic: Gagandeep Ghuman

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Dec. 28, 2013

Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) proponents have six months to supplement information on water, hydrology, fish, vegetation, and wildlife to the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).

An updated socio-economic study is also being sought by the EAO.

Garibaldi at Squamish is a proposed all-season resort on the slopes of Brohm Ridge, approx 15 kilometres from Squamish.

The resort will have 5,739 housing units, and more 1,700 hotel units, along with two 18-hole golf courses.

A public meeting on Dec. 18 at West Coast Railway Heritage Park saw a steady trickle of people come in and comment on the project.

EAO’s representative Chris Hamilton said the proponents have provided satisfactory information on some parts of the project.

“They have provided enough information on three-quarters of the project,” Hamilton said.

But more information must flow on other part of the projects, he said.

The proponents earlier proposed a surface water extraction from Brohm Lake, but changed plans to extract ground water from the Cheakamus aquifer.

“They have done some water studies, but they need to do more testing for quality,” he said.

Besides water quantity, the EAO office is also seeking report about potential groundwater contaminants, a well protection plan, ground water flow directions and rates, etc.

The proponent will also need to supply information on the potential effects of geohazards of the project infrastructure, such as ground water supply line, pump house, etc.

EAO also wants information on net effects to fish and fish habitat from the operation of the groundwater in the Cheakamus River, change to old growth forest, economic and social effects.

A detailed list of Supplemental Application Information Requirements (SAIR) is also available here.

Meanwhile, GAS proponents say there is more than enough water in the Cheakamus aquifer to meet the needs of the project.

A pumping test was carried out over four days in February 2013, which monitored water quality at nearby wells, Swift Creek and the Cheakamus River.

GAS hydrologist Andrew Holmes said the proposed maximum removal rate represents less than 10 per cent of summer flow in the aquifer and less than 0.5 % of minimum flows in the Cheakamus River.

“There is about 12 times the amount of water we need right now,” Holmes said.

GAS proponents say the water quality is also ‘excellent’ and in compliance with Health Canada’s Canadian Drinking Quality.

The proponents have till June 2014 to provide all supplemental information to EAO.

 

Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Would the GAS hydrologist tell us why the water pumping test was conducted in February rather than in the summer and would some INDEPENDENT hydrologist out there comment on this please.

    • Rob Gerard says:

      Hi Dave, I had a long conversation with the hydrologist. According to her they tested in February as the water-table is usually lower at that point, and not a lot of percipitation (in principle an appropriate response). I asked her why they don’t test every month or at least every season. Her response was that it is expensive and they can model the rest of the data. In my opinion that is a very poor response and completely inadequate. Well pump-testing should be done a bare minimum of once a season, preferably everry month, and for a longer duration. She says it is expensive to test – but it is just standard pump and generator, where the pump is calibrated and volume pumped measured. A levelogger (cost around $350) is inserted in each well to be monitiored and the data downloaded afterwards. It’s not rocket-science and FAR outweighs any modeled data.

      In addition they should test for the real volume of water required, which will be far in excess of 70 l/s (snow-making alone estimated to be around 200 l/s). Closer to 300 l/s would be much more realistic.

  2. Rob Gerard says:

    I spend more than 3 hours at the Open House. The way I see it, GAS can be very good, or very bad for Squamish. The first thing to get absolutely clear is that GAS is a real estate project development, not about developing a ski resort. The ski-side of it is purely to obtain the Crown Land (and the reason why the project proponents are not concerned about the lack of snow on the mountain). The project is really very simple in design:

    1. Apply and obtain Crown Land from Province. The Crown Land will be sold at “current market value” – in reality this will be a very nominal amount, the logging revenue itself will pay for Crown land acquired.
    2. Construct, market and sell the real estate.
    3. Sign off on the servicing of the development.

    This third part of the strategy is very important – as the intention is for Squamish (DOS) to assume the servicing of the new town, as evidenced in GAS’s socio-economic report – but for obvious reasons not exactly trumpeted out loud. It does not require an economist to understand the implications for Squamish to undertake the servicing of another town – where the development does not bring in the needed revenue.

    Some other points supporting the above assertion:
    • Water requirements: the developer contents that they only need 70 /s (litres a second – that is a pipe of 10” diameter) to provide all their water requirements – this is of course absolutely bogus. A quick comparison just on the snow making requirements indicates a need of around 200 l/s – not of a drop of water for any of the housing units yet. However, as the developer is not concerned about the servicing of the development, just the selling of the real estate, it is not a real concern.
    • The developer is dead set against constructing any housing units in Squamish, not even the “employment housing”, and have shuttles to the ski hill. If this was about developing a ski resort, like Cypress, this would have been a reasonable approach.

    As currently proposed, where the Province gives GAS the land, the build and sell the real estate, leaving Squamish to hold the services bag – GAS will not be good for us. However, if Squamish takes control over her own resources and insists on most of the housing developments take place within the existing town, GAS can be a win-win for everyone.

    It is very important for local residents to understand the proposed project, and please submit their comments at http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/pcp/index.html. Or be left holding the bag. It is up to us.

  3. Dave says:

    Wow!
    Rob, I have said all that you have said over the last 2 or 3 years in different notes, but you have put it all together most eloquently in one complete article. Let us hope that those that matter can wake up to some reality at last or we might be in deep trouble in the not so distant future! This venture could be the biggest “snow job” (so to speak) to hit us for many years or ,as you say, things could be good if luck and the right decisions unfold.
    I do not doubt that a lot of money will be made by some but I, personally, do not see that Squamish will see much of a net benefit….rather….well we shall see, won’t we?

    • Rob Gerard says:

      I don’t think we necessarily have to wait and see. Look at the proponents and note the track record – especially those who were dealt with in the past. Wolfgang Richter is the main driving force behind the development.

  4. Richard Tripp says:

    A real estate development? Of course it is! Along with such a venture comes jobs, business opportunities and investments in infrastructure…. just the sorts of things most people in Squamish are clamouring for more and more these days. Would anyone consider the evolution of Whistler to be anything less than a real estate development?

    While it may be tempting to simplify the project into a 3 step process with a predetermined outcome I really don’t see how that can seriously be construed as reality. It does nothing to educate or inform on how the process is designed to work, where and when the outcomes can be determined or influenced and by who. It implies that the proponent buys land, slaps up real estate, pockets profits and leaves the DOS on the hook for a net loss.

    A more helpful and reality based list would include the facts that the developers foot the bills and risk for developing value added infrastructure prior to developing the first of ongoing staged releases of real estate for profit.

    Can we also move on past the water issues please? Will they need maximum water flows from day one? Obviously not! Can they use other sources of water for snow making and other non drinking uses? Of course they can. The DOS (if they are sensible) will be the local governing body and as such has the opportunity to work towards developing a new standard in multifaceted water supply/conservation/management systems. Given the state of the system down the hill one would think an opportunity to do it better might be welcomed as a chance to balance things out a little, instead of feared as a liability.

    • Rob says:

      Richard, perhaps re-read the comments from Dave and myself. It is not negative in nature. I formed my views having spent a lot of time speaking to the proponent and his representatives at the recent Open House, reading the material, and referencing it. I agree GAS could be good for Squamish – but as it is now, it is not certain at all. One thing that was made very clear to me is that the proponent(s) do not appear to have the welfare of Squamish in mind; it did not even appear to be a consideration. I simplified the project plan because it is in the Comments section of a newspaper – DOS summarized their plan with a 37 page document, excluding the supporting document summaries.

      Regarding Whistler, GAS cannot be directly compared to Whistler for many reasons, including those pointed out by Dave. Especially on the snow front.

      Regarding water: you are right about the water use. And that was my exact point too, that GAS is not providing accurate water use numbers to the EA officers or stakeholders, as they are obligated to. Where are these other water sources you are referring to? We had extended periods of water restrictions last year here – year round water is not as abundant as it appears.

      Reading your last paragraph, it looks like you are saying (I’m paraphrasing): sure they will need a lot more than the 70 l/s they are saying, but if DOS is clever, they will assume the responsibility for the development and go figure out how to make the development water efficient and find the additional water required.” Water efficiency standards are already well developed, DOS just needs to adopt them and GAS already intends to be as water efficient as possible. The problem remains that the extra sources of water supply are not identified. It is the responsibility of the developer to identify and evaluate this, not that of Squamish taxpayers.

      Lastly, as you are in construction, I understand for you to hope GAS proceeds soon and of benefitting from work that are close to home. I share this hope with you and also hope to benefit, but not to the detriment of Squamish residents in general. I believe you feel the same way as you have been a consistent community advocate for years. My key point is simply for Squamish to take responsible ownership of its own resources – let us clearly communicate to GAS what would be good for Squamish, and then support it and see it implemented in a manner that we know will not only benefit the developer, but the community too.

  5. Dave says:

    Richard. Please understand that I am not against Real Estate development if it can be self sustaining and not rely on a fall back from a neighboring community if things don’t quite work out as planned; people have to live somewhere. Your comparison with Whistler is a bit off. Whistler/Blackcomb evolved from a very viable Ski Hill which was initially helped along by the Government. The real estate boom came naturally later. By the way, have you noticed the rather sudden drop-off in property values there recently?
    G.A.S. is not quite as viable as a ski hill for a number of reasons and so the real estate has had to be the main driver in the end….it is, therefore, to be hoped that views will out-way any future shortfall in the skiing There is a danger that the buyers expectations may not eventually be fulfilled should the ski hill part not work out and their investment might not be as it had first seemed. I could be wrong and hope so for their sakes. Squamish people are truly in trouble with their infrastructure etc. to the point that they are beginning to consider holding back on real estate expansion even within their own boundary.
    The water?…Well I am not a hydrologist and I hope that this can be resolved. The same goes for a number of the other environmental issues. I am really just a small player in this adversarial game and I hope that the ball ends up somewhere in the middle to the satisfaction of us all. I will keep kicking and ,too, so should you as well :-) If this thing is going to work it must be proven and even guaranteed that Squamish will not lose out just because of the raw greed of a few speculators. If a risk is taken it should be from within the DOS itself not from outsiders. And it should be very calculated risk.

  6. I almost never leave a response, however I glanced through some remarks on Garibaldi at
    Squamish (GAS) Has till June to Submit Additional Info : The Squamish Reporter.
    I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be only me or does it look like like
    a few of these comments appear as if they are
    coming from brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing
    at other online social sites, I’d like to follow everything new you have to post.

    Would you post a list of all of all your social networking pages like your Facebook page,
    twitter feed, or linkedin profile?