IN 1998, the original resort plan was supported by 90 per cent of the community of Squamish and by 85 per cent of the community of Whistler as presented in a Marketed Independent Research Study conducted in April 2002 in which the original 8,000 acre project site was enlarged to 12,000 acres, confusing the focus of the original resort concept by bringing some of the proposed development down from a main village base area at 3,600 ft. to include development parcels around the intersection turn-off for the proposed six-mile access road from Highway 99.
I personally have always been a strong supporter of the logic and viability of the original resort plan. Based on these community’s concerns, there have been modifications to the resort plan including the removal of golf courses proposed near Cat Lake and Brom Lake and supplying water for the resort from groundwater wells. I believe the Garibaldi at Squamish Project is good for Squamish and it supports our community in being recognized as the Outdoor Capital of Canada. It’s a perfect and synergistic fit with the ‘LIVE, WORK and PLAY’ theme and experiences that have already been created and available during the 12 months of the year.
The Garibaldi at Squamish Project will help realize that opportunity and contribute to the BC tourism industry while additionally becoming an economic engine for Squamish. It will serve local, regional and destination skiers, and will cater to visitor needs with a range of recreational opportunities, visitor amenities and on mountain accommodations. It will also enhance Whistler by increasing and diversifying the tourism products we have to offer in our region. While living in Colorado Springs, and working for the United States Ski Association, I travelled to many ski resorts in the Colorado Rockies and saw how the synergistic relationships among the Colorado resorts strengthened their tourism industry. This was achieved by providing a variety of recreational choices, and building cooperative marketing and sales programs that benefit everyone.
GAS will also promote economic prosperity in the region by generating jobs, business opportunities, and local and provincial tax revenues. Its estimated capital cost is in excess of $870 million over the construction period and the project would provide an estimated 13,232 person years of direct construction employment during a 20-year construction period as an additional 5,028 person years of indirect and induced construction employment. At full build-out, the proposed project would provide up to 2,463 direct full-time equivalent jobs and an additional 319 indirect and induced jobs. The project is expected to help attract more visitors to the region. Annual winter and summer visitations to the resort are estimated at 200,000. Existing businesses including restaurants, tourism-focused retail as well as other recreational services in the community will see benefits from more people coming to the region. The number of new small business opportunities to service both the project and the local tourism industry are vast and abundant.
And yes, with development, there are potential downsides. These may include a higher demand for services. The proponent has made a number of commitments to mitigate the potential downsides of the project. These commitments are outlined in the Project Application available on the provincial government website at www.ea.gov.BC.ca.
I welcome the community’s increasing involvement as the mountain resort development proposal proceeds through the remaining public approvals process. Frankly, Squamish is GOOD for the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish Project as we are fortunate to have a strong, stable and sophisticated community providing ongoing constructive input throughout the planning, approval and development processes which will only serve to not only make Garibaldi at Squamish a better project, but help it to be all that it can be.
Janice Brown is a director of Garibaldi at Squamish