SQUAMISH, BC – This week, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) – Canada's leading supplier of quality outdoor gear, clothing and camping equipment – awarded a substantial grant to fund local efforts to stop the Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) ski resort. The broad coalition of conservationists, recreation users, anglers, and businesses leading the charge against the controversial development said the $8,400 MEC grant would provide a major boost to their campaign. The coalition, including Big Wildlife, Squamish Environment Society, Save Garibaldi, and more than twenty businesses and other community groups, has been working to preserve the area’s wilderness, wildlife, and traditional recreation uses.
"The massive Garibaldi at Squamish resort would turn a stunning, natural landscape into a sprawling development of Mcmansions with Chemlawns," said Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife's Communications Director. "By funding efforts to stop the GAS project, Mountain Equipment Co-op has demonstrated its commitment to conserving what makes Squamish so special." Mr. Vincent submitted an application to MEC in August requesting the company's support of the coalition's public education and community organizing efforts.
The GAS resort would cover an area roughly half the size of Squamish. It would include: two golf courses, 25 ski lifts, 98 km of roads, hotels, and nearly 6,000 new homes, apartments, and condominiums. The proposal has sparked wide-spread opposition. This summer, the coalition urged provincial and District officials to reject the GAS plan because it would hurt small businesses by drawing consumers away from downtown, jeopardize existing recreational use, undermine Squamish's official community plan, adversely impact rich fisheries and imperiled species, and put residents at risk by displacing large predators, such as cougars and bears, potentially increasing conflicts with wildlife. GAS critics also expressed concern about the project's impact on current community services and infrastructure.
The proposed development encompasses land that has been identified as prime habitat for at-risk species such as peregrine falcon, wolverine, and marbled murrelet. The GAS area also includes a threatened grizzly bear population that has been designated for recovery by the province. The project has come under especially intense fire because of its potential impacts on Brohm Creek, one of the most prolific steelhead streams in BC. The development calls for expansive water management, including sewage and storm water discharge, irrigation for golf courses and potable water, extractions of water for snowmaking, and as many as five dams. In October, GAS developers suffered major setbacks when the BC Environmental Assessment Office, District of Squamish, and Resort Municipality of Whistler said they could not support the project in its current state because of outstanding questions about water.
“Brohm Ridge offers an incredibly diverse range of wildlife and easily accessible recreation. MEC’s financial assistance means we can step up our efforts to save these unique natural values,” said Catherine Jackson of the Squamish Environment Society.
Each year, MEC awards grants to fund Canadian wilderness conservation and recreational access initiatives. The Stop Garibaldi at Squamish project was one of twenty-two advocacy and education projects approved out of 84 applications submitted to the company this grant cycle.
"The data put forth by the GAS developers has not proven the viability or sustainability of this massive development. In fact, all evidence indicates it would have a tremendous negative impact on our community,” said Jessica Reid with Save Garibaldi. “MEC’s help will go a long way toward helping us educate the public about this very special place.”