It seems obvious to me…

…that this Garibaldi At Squamish (GAS) ski resort project SHOULD NOT be happening.  That’s my two cents.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’m raising it again now only because it’s on my mind.  The count down is on.  We (the Squamish community) are supposed to get results this month of January 2010 from the Brohm Ridge Environmental Assessment, which obviously fails, (again) but if it passes this time, it’s only because there was more money than heart involved.  And the researchers or the council or everybody sold out to this 8 billion dollar deal  — and to me that would be the most disappointing thing of all.

heidi-montag-spencer-pratt-skiing

Of course, I don’t have a problem with Skiing, I don’t have an issue with proper development either, I don’t have any issue’s with opening up the backcountry and creating jobs and I can’t say I’m against swinging the golf clubs around.  I do have problems with artificial fertilizers and other chemicals, I do have a problem with river and fish destruction, ESPECIALLY in such a sensitive area like Brohm Ridge and I do have a problem with losing our precious swimming holes.

They sell us with PICTURES.  They sell us with DREAMS.  They sell us with SOLID real estate profits.  But what are we really getting?  What are we REALLY buying into when we let a project of this magnitude elbow its way through the system?  We are investing in the destruction of our rivers, our oceans and our planet.  AGAIN.  Why must we live like this?  Why do they need 22,846 bed units, two 18 hole golf courses, 25 ski lifts, and 4 trillion hotels?  Has everyone gone completely insane?  How hard is it to begin with a modest project, like they did in the old days, and if it proves to be successful, and harmless, expand on it?

Dead_salmon_in_spawning_season

Here’s an article I found online from the Vancouver Sun,  please read it, and decide for yourself what you believe in…

“Proponents of the Garibaldi At Squamish project at Brohm Ridge north of town are pitching their development as a financial boon for the economy of the community and the province, offering thousands of jobs, tourism activity and an estimated $8 billion in construction activity and spinoffs.

However a new environmental study obtained by The Vancouver Sun indicates that the project would devastate the Brohm River — one of the most productive wild steelhead and salmon streams in B.C.

Steelhead are large, seagoing rainbow trout that are the most prized freshwater sport fish in the province, but they are at death’s door throughout their range in the Georgia Basin — even on streams supported by hatcheries — because of habitat destruction and poor ocean survival conditions.

Brohm River is described in the report as “unique” in its exceptional ability to support young steelhead before their migration to the ocean — five times as productive for fish as a typical B.C. south coast river.

A report commissioned by the B.C. Conservation Foundation, paid for with money from sport fishing license sales, says the Brohm’s remarkable stream chemistry is the key.

The Brohm, one of two main steelhead nurseries for the Squamish River system, enjoys a naturally high level of phosphorus because of the volcanic geology of the area. That chemical supports an ideal food chain for raising fish.

Only two other B.C. streams, the Upper Dean River and the Blackwater River, have similar chemistry and both of those rank among the top angling streams on the planet.

The Garibaldi At Squamish development is proposed for the stream’s headwaters at Brohm Ridge and includes extensive water management plans, including up to five dams, extractions of water for snowmaking, golf course irrigation and potable water supply, storm water and sewage discharge, plus resort development that includes hotels, condominiums and other homes with a combined 22,000 bed units.

The report, written by former B.C. government steelhead biologist Pat Slaney, says the project would need to bring water in from another source to augment local resources to “ensure that a water demand-fish flow crisis does not develop over time.” The report also suggests that fertilizer runoff from the golf courses, and chemicals used in snow-making, could unbalance the stream’s beneficial chemistry.

The project was first submitted to the province’s Environmental Assessment Office in 1997 and resubmitted in 2007.

The assessment is now on hiatus while the proponents develop more data on the hydrology of the area, and is not expected to resume until January 2009.

Craig Orr, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said it is “ironic” that the proposal is being examined at a time when the government is promoting its new Living Water Smart program including conservation and protection of streams and lakes

He said the B.C. government must decide if it’s more concerned about preserving streams, or promoting development.

Jack Cooley of Squamish Streamkeepers said his group is actively working to restore previous damage to fish habitat in the Brohm.

Cooley called the development a “real-estate grab” and said the Streamkeepers oppose it.

Garibaldi At Squamish president and CEO Mike Esler described Slaney’s work as “pure speculation.”

He said the company believes its project can be a model for water conservation.

“We are going to be a very green resort, no question,” he said in an interview.

He said he “disagreed” that the project would adversely impact stream chemistry.

“We are all over this. We are going to make sure this is done right.”

ssimpson@vancouversun.com

For more interesting reading on the subject, PLEASE click here.

  • Suradetch

    Have you seen the documentary, HOME? I’m sure you’ve seen it, but if you or someone else reading this has not then it is worth taking some time to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU

  • Danny B

    The site is looking good Sonnie, happy new year man. Pete, the Hampi stink beast, Keizer is moving out to Hawaii, he wanted to pass a message to you that a place is always open if you come out to visit.

  • Nancy

    Like all of life, economies run in cycles, and a massive development in one’s backyard is no guarantee for stabilizing or stimulating them. Lake Tahoe’s “development” as a destination resort community is unsustainable and has been deeply affected by the economic downturn; the middle class has had to move out taking their families and small businesses with them, leaving only the independently wealthy and those who “serve” them…mostly immigrant labor. Our once excellent schools have been cut off at the knees because of declining enrollment; teacher allocations and funding slashed. The Lake’s clarity has been devastated by development, plain and simple; all those nitrates from the fertilizers used by the golf courses and landscaped estates along the lake shore have fed the algae blooming in the crystal waters. The greed of the developers and the collusion of those hoping to gain, financially, from the developers has backfired on the communities now struggling to keep their heads above water, now even more dependent on the visitors’ dollar.

    I’ve not been to Squamish, but from your descriptions, Sonnie, it sounds PERFECT as it is. Squamish doesn’t need a behemoth resort. I’d fight this thing with everything I had if I were you and your neighbors. There are other, better ways to make a sustainable living in a community (which still is a community; a resort changes that, believe me); a resort like GAS will NOT be an enhancement in the long run; pristine nature will be. Fight it.

  • Matt

    A good plan would be to mobilize action with all communities involved by setting up a facebook action group and a twitter group. We can begin by rallying the climbing community both in Squamish and vancouver by word of mouth and getting pamphlets done up (pass em around at the gyms, cafes and local apres-crag pub)to get as much support from the grassroots as possible. We need (sales people) to go out on the front lines and rally up support.
    Imagine how the climbing experience and lifestyle in Squamish will change if these projects go ahead. This will surely set a precedence to jack up prices locally and maybe exploit the whole climbing experience to only benefit the wealthy few. Imagine in 10 years from now, after all the real estate expansion and influx of yuppy exodus, having to pay 40$ a day for bouldering access or needing a seasons pass to climb the Chief! That would suck! But it could happen if big corporate interests hijack this place. It will turn into a big yuppy Disneyland with big HUMMERS trashing around like in Whistler and thinking they’re tough because they can drive up a logging road wearing their Arceryx that they don’t even use for climbing. And rich brats with hangovers poking around the crags and being dicks. Imagine!! What a nightmare! Imagine the idiot with the dollars that will want to push a development proposal to build at the foot of the chief…LOL! sounds funny but money talks!
    OK enough with apocalyptic visions. Has anyone already started a fecebook group for this?

  • I’ve heard a lot of instances of a new ‘buzz word’, namely, SUSTAINABLE development. This usually conflicts with the main driver for development which is the ECONOMICS of the project. In other words, if you’re going to spend the money, you’d better be getting more back in return. In the article above, it mentions total construction costs of 8 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money to spend in order to get more back!!

    Let’s just put this into perspective for a moment, with a dumb unrelated example. The average city interchange/overpass (in Calgary at least) costs between $25 million and $40 million. Even if you used $50 million per interchange, this would build 160 interchanges for $8 billion. This is a big development.

    Now, let’s look at SUSTAINABLE deveopment and ECONOMICS. For the SUSTAINABILITY, how about portioning out a shwack of money for water treatment. Contour your golf courses to run off into a holding pond(s). Treat the water. Truck in water which is excess from what you can safely take from the water shed. I’m not necessarily saying I know what the answer is, but, whatever solutions are required protect the stream, DO IT. The point is, the deveopment causes problems with the local environment, figure out what they are and solve them above and beyond what is figured as ‘acceptable’. This is the sustainability bit.

    For the ECONOMICS bit, if the budget was $500 million for water conservation, this would represent only 6.25% of the project cost. Even if this money wasn’t budgeted in the original $8 billion, if your project can’t handle the extra 6.25% to properly protect the environment, maybe it shouldn’t fit the criteria of an ECONOMIC development. These criteria lie with the governing bodies of the area, wich ‘represent’ the people. It’s not you’re government, it’s you.

    Perhaps there are stages to the project where the water conservation budget would kill the project out right? Well, two things here:

    1. Great
    2. Find a way to stage the water conservation with the project to make the whole thing economic.

    What I figure is that as long as the world population continues to grow, development cannot be stopped. However, the main driver for development is economics, and the inputs into the equation for favorable economics can be changed, or even legislated. The legislation is the responsiblity of the people acting through their Government. Now, the thing is, the companies taking on these project have a lot to gain, they’re sure of that, else they wouldn’t be risking their own money or their investors (remember $8 billion). They know the weaknesses of their arguements, and they go to great lengths to hide them. I know this, as I’ve worked for one, and participated on dollar scales far less than here. Those on the other side, wishing to protect what needs to be protected, must use their own resources and time, with no compensation save for sleeping well at night. Who do you figure puts up the better arguement?

    You can’t necessarily take away the right to develop, but you can define the rules, and maybe it’s time the rules change. There is a saying that the voice of the minority is always stronger. Maybe it’s time the voice of the majority be heard?

    Just saying, ya know.

  • Christine

    I’m from Utah, and as a skier, climber and steelhead and salmon fisherman (er, woman that is), I’d like to know if there’s anything I can do to help stop this development. Are there petitions? Is there anything a nobody from the states can do to help the cause?

  • tim

    As the son of a ski area developer,I was made aware of additives to snowmaking water decades ago. I hope the water analysis studies check on the impact of biological additives to the snowmaking water. These additives allow snow to be made at higher temperatures.I would imagine it is a common practice world wide and I’m sure it would impact mountain runoff to one degree or another.

  • Matt

    If there is no facebook group on this yet, maybe this will convince someone to start one.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=260348091419#/group.php?v=info&gid=260348091419
    This group was started a few days ago since Harper announced to prorogue (shut down) parliament for 3 months..hehe..”BACK TO WORK HARPER! It’s the people you serve not the corporations!” Anyways..it grew massively in just a few days to almost 40 000 members! This is a good tool to mobilize and protest! I suggest we all do the same.
    I won’t start the group because I think someone more engaged in the debate and leading the way should do it (council member?…).
    I am sure that it would spread like wildfire and amass huge support.

  • i agree, i climb in squamish, lets put a stop to this ski resort NOW