Just like Jumbo Glacier Resort, Garibaldi at Squamish (or GAS as it’s commonly known) — the most recent ski resort proposal to get an environmental certificate in BC — has faced opposition since inception.
The team that created Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Aquilini Investment Group and Northland Properties, is the proponent behind the $3.5 billion project, which has been 15 years in the making — a 22,000-bed year-round car-free resort village on Brohm Ridge 20 kilometres north of Squamish that will take 20 years to build.
GAS has received the full support from the local Squamish First Nation, which considers Brohm Ridge to be a very sacred mountain for its people. The Squamish First Nation is a formidable ally, being one of the wealthiest bands in Canada, and is intent on ensuring its members will benefit economically from the resort — including employment, contracting, and revenue-sharing.
Understandably, the Municipality of Whistler is dead set against GAS, citing concerns that the resort will take away from its customer and employee base due to its location halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. Meanwhile, many in Squamish are anticipating moving away from its “on the way to Whistler” status with a resort destination to call its own that is promising to deliver thousands of new jobs and $50 million in tax revenue.
As Jumbo resort proponent Oberto Oberti moves ahead with his other warmly received proposal, Valemount Glacier Destination, and GAS gets underway, it’s clear the provincial government is confident in the potential of ski resorts as economic drivers, likely buoyed by increasing numbers of international visitors to B.C. thanks to the low Canadian dollar.
But without the population density of Europe or California, where the cluster effect of ski resorts and wineries succeeds, whether or not the “build it and they will come” philosophy works in B.C. remains to be seen.