Environment Minister Mary Polak and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Garibaldi at Squamish Inc. for the Garibaldi at Squamish project (GAS).
The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office. A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision at:http://tinyurl.com/z8gdpqb
There are 40 conditions that are attached to the environmental assessment certificate, the province announced. The conditions include:
- limit the rate of groundwater withdrawal from the Paradise Valley aquifer;
- monitor daily water consumption and the levels of the aquifer and develop a web-based tool to allow live public access to this information;
- complete a study that determines potential adverse effects from the construction and operation of groundwater pumping on the sidechannels of the Cheakamus River, which are important salmon spawning habitat;
- retain the services of a qualified person with demonstrated experience and knowledge of environmental monitoring for construction projects in B.C., prior to construction;
- complete a Biodiversity Retention Environmental Management Plan to address potential impacts on vegetation and wildlife;
- complete a Brohm River Management Plan to ensure the project does not affect that sensitive river;
- avoid and reduce risks of potential bear-human conflicts and ensure that Garibaldi at Squamish achieves “Bear Smart” status or equivalent designation by no later than the first anniversary of the commencement of operations; and
- provide at least 10% of the resort bed units as employee housing to address adverse effects from potential increases in housing costs and shortages of rental accommodation in Squamish.
In addition, Garibaldi at Squamish Inc. proposed a number of design changes during the environmental assessment, based on feedback received during the process, including:
- changing the water supply from surface water to groundwater;
- removing golf courses from the overall project;
- removing development near Cat and Brohm Lakes, which are important recreational areas to residents of Squamish; and
- eliminating water reservoirs, with the exception of a snowmaking reservoir.
The environmental assessment certificate decision is the first in a series of decisions and approvals necessary for the Project to proceed. Some of the other significant approval steps the Garibaldi at Squamish project must complete before it can proceed include potential boundary expansion decision by the District of Squamish should the project reside within the district, amendment to Regional Growth Strategy and approval in principle from either the district of the SLRD.
GAS is a year-round destination mountain resort community that would include ski lifts, trails (ski and multi-use), resort accommodation and housing units, guest services, public amenities, and groundwater supply and infrastructure. The overall project area would be 2,759 hectares.