By Brad Hodge
Published: Jan. 6, 2013
No, not poltergeist, although that would be awesome. No, this is Garibaldi at Squamish, the proposal to develop a ski resort along Brohm Ridge and its environs.
The last time this proposal circulated, people were cranky. It got to a point where I was fearful of even mentioning GAS’ name. People would bring it up in conversation trying to fish out your opinion. If you were smart, you’d utter a quick “Hey, is that bear trying to steal your car?” in response and run away.
On the whole, the opponents had some fair points. The plan was big in scale. There were concerns about water use, sprawl from thousands of new bed units being built (code for hotels and housing), transportation and the encirclement/urbanization of Cat and Brohm Lakes.
I think it’s legitimate to ask these questions. Even I wondered how two new golf courses could survive in competition with the two (now one) we had already in Squamish.
I wondered how a water intensive venture like GAS could manage the sparse water supply in the immediate area. Even now I look at the huge development proposals on the table in the corridor – Porteau, Britannia, and Cheekeye to name the big ones, and I wonder what impact all this will have on the things that brought me to Squamish in the first place: namely being close to nature.
I wondered if Squamish should seek to annex this development, which was nearly two-third the size of Squamish as it existed then — if we could even handle the infrastructure demands.
These and others were all reasonable concerns. The proponents deserved the opportunity to address them in a calm, rational atmosphere.
Unfortunately this did not happen. The lightning rod was what appeared to be the encirclement of Cat and Brohm Lakes.
That was an unfortunate mistake – it struck an emotional chord that played into the hands of anti-development types and NIMBYists who were certain to oppose the development no matter what.
Reasonable people, who feared incurring the wrath of opponents, were coerced into silence or were drowned out by the chorus of opposition.
In the end the province didn’t grant environmental approval, requiring changes, but that did nothing to assuage fears that big money was stealing our land and lakes to build condos.
I have little doubt, however, that the right proposal could do wonders for Squamish. Whistler has gotten very expensive and could use some competition.
We could use the short and long term jobs. But there are legitimate concerns. Responsible water use is paramount.
And I do oppose Cat and Brohm Lakes in any way being encircled or urbanized.
If the proponent and Province can make sure the process is as transparent and consultative as possible, reasonable citizens should be given the breathing space to make up their own minds.
This is our future. Let reason prevail.