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Comment period on proposed ski resort extended

Squamish resident Corey Andrews snowmobiles around the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort.

for the globe and mail/Brian Thompson

The public comment period for the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish project, an all-seasons resort that would be built about 15 kilometres north of Squamish, has been extended from Jan. 7 until Jan. 14.

The deadline was extended to fix an administrative error over the original date, an Environmental Assessment Office representative said Tuesday in an e-mail.

The proposal, which dates back to the 1990s, includes plans for a mountain resort that would feature two 18-hole golf courses, 23 ski lifts, 124 ski trails and nearly 6,000 housing units, including more than 1,700 hotel units.

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According to a revised project description filed last year with the province, the project would be built in phases over 20 years at an estimated capital cost of $2.9-billion.

The initial stages – including ski lifts, infrastructure and the two golf courses – have an estimated price tag of $838-million. The Vancouver-based backers of the project are Northland Properties – the parent company of Sandman Hotels and Denny's restaurants – and the Aquilini Investment Group, which owns the Vancouver Canucks and also has extensive holdings in real estate and agriculture. Northland Properties also owns and operates the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

The proposed Garibaldi at Squamish resort would border Garibaldi Provincial Park and be situated between Vancouver and Whistler.

An environmental assessment process has been under way for years, with recent studies focusing on water supply after the province in 2010 ordered the proponent to provide more information about the proposed water supply for the resort. Since then, the proponent has filed additional water studies and a revised project description.

To date, public comments – posted online in late December – have cited concerns ranging from the potential effect of climate change on glaciers and snow cover to whether the market can support another big ski resort so close to Whistler Blackcomb.

"I question the viability of the business plan for this project," said one submission, for which personal information was withheld.

"There are three other ski resorts in close proximity to this location, including Whistler which offers world-class conditions to which this location cannot compare."

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The same submission also flagged climate change as a potential concern.

"I would also like to see a study on the potential impacts of climate change on snow and weather conditions for the [Garibaldi at Squamish] location. Shrinkage in local glaciers has been documented and with the location's proximity to the coast, I feel the community has reasons to doubt that the [Garibaldi at Squamish] resort can provide consistently ideal snow conditions that would make it a sought-after ski resort."

The assessment process for the project continues.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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