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$3.5 Billion Ski Area Near Whistler Gets Environmental Approval

A proposed ski area near Whistler, Canada just received an environmental assessment certificate from the provincial government, a crucial step in the fight to make the Garibaldi at Squamish resort a reality. If it happens, the four-seasons resort would cost $3.5 billion and take at least 20 years to build. It would also be a competitor to Whistler Blackcomb, which is located about 45 minutes north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky highway.

According to the Squamish Chief, the environmental certificate has 40 conditions attached to it, ranging from limiting the rate of groundwater withdrawal to providing at least 10 percent of the resort bed units as employee housing. Now, the proposal still has to meet approval in local government offices.

Here's what the proposed development would include (note that 2 proposed golf courses were removed from the development plans):

· The ski resort would be located 15 kilometers north of Squamish on Brohm Ridge.
· 23 ski lifts
· 124 developed trails on between 2,400-3,000 skiable acres
· Private and commercial accommodations including 1,675 hotel units
· A car-free village with housing, restaurants, and shops linked to Squamish by transit
· Winter recreation would include alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and snowshoeing
· Summer recreation would include hiking, mountain biking, festivals, and events
· Base activities could include rock climbing, zip lines, and skate parks

If built, proponents say the project will generate 4,000 jobs to operate the resort, 2,000 jobs to build it, and millions of dollars in tourism revenue. The ski resort began the process of trying to earn environmental approval nearly 20 years ago. Opponents of the new ski area say that there is no need for another resort in the Sea to Sky corridor and are concerned about the ski area's impacts on wilderness. There was also concern about how developers would work with the Squamish Nation, a community that has been active in negotiations. CBC News is reporting that Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell has said his community is on board.

· Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort gets environmental approval [CBC News]
· It's a go for Garibaldi at Squamish [The Squamish Chief]