By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March 8, 2014
Garibaldi at Squamish proponents have asked for a one-year extension for the environmental assessment process.
The Environment Assessment Office (EAO) had earlier set a deadline for June 2014 for the proponents to provide supplemental information to EAO on a range of issues.
GAS proponents want that deadline to be extended to June 2015. They have given two reasons for this demand for extension.
In a letter he wrote to EAO on March 3, David Negrin, the company CEO, wrote that more time is required because of:
- Questions related to groundwater withdrawal effects require that Paradise Valley Well monitoring be continued to a later point.
- Continued concerns about adverse effects to public use of Cat Lake and Brohm Lake recreation area suggest GAS re-evaluate areas in the master plan.
“Professional advice tells us this change in scope will require more preparation and assessment time for these two issues,” Negrin wrote.
Chris Hamilton, a project director with EAO, said no decision has been made on the request.
“Ministers are currently considering this request,” Hamilton said.
Garibaldi at Squamish is a proposed all-season resort on the slopes of Brohm Ridge, approx 15 kilometres from Squamish.
Over the proposed fifteen-year development, as many as22,846 bed units are planned.
In April 2010, the District of Squamish asked the province to not give an environmental assessment certificate to GAS, citing issues with water extraction.
The EAO didn’t accept the advice, but asked GAS to provide supplemental information on water, hydrology, fish, vegetation and wildlife.
GAS proponents are also excluding one-third of land, about 4,000 acres, from its master plan.
The 4,000 acres of land being taken out of the master plan is close to Highway 99, surrounding Cat Lake and Brohm Lake.
“We’ll still have that land below, but we are not planning to build down there,” said GAS president, Wolfgang Richter.
The addition of the 4,000 acres at the bottom created a ‘lot of havoc’ about the project’s real intentions, he said.
“It just ended up being a red herring, which distracted everyone from what our real intention were,” he said.
Richter said the focus of GAS is on bed units, not acreage.
“The emphasis wasn’t down below, and it just distracted everybody,” he said.
The area now being excluded was added to the proposal ten years ago, a decision that led to a lawsuit from the Squamish Nation.
Richter called that inclusion a ‘mistake’.
Keeping the 4,000 acres at the bottom part undeveloped also ensures no one else tries to develop it down the line, Richter added.
“The turn off from the highway is still critical, but it’s also helpful to know it won’t be someone else’s subject site,” he said.
Save Brohm Ridge, a group that opposes GAS, says the development will create urban sprawl, increase landslide and hazard potential, endanger wildlife habitat and increase landslide and flood hazard potential.
Meanwhile, Chris Hamilton from EAO office said they haven’t heard from GAS on any changes to its master plan.