ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT: GARIBALDI AT SQUAMISH

This project was designed to assess the environmental impacts of the Garibaldi at Squamish project. Map 1, which is retrieved from our lab instructions, shows the location of the project in BC. This proposed project would become a year-round destination mountain resort on Brohm Ridge on Highway 99, 15 km north of Squamish and 45 km south of Whistler. In case of approval, this resort will consist of 124 ski trails of various difficulties in addition to 23 lifts and a resort accommodation and commercial developments. Even though it would provide many jobs, it is important to assess whether the positive economic impacts are worth the negative environmental impacts. To start, Northland Properties and Aquilini Investment Group of Vancouver submitted the proposal for approval under Environmental Assessment Act in 1997. Eventually, in 2010, the BC Environmental Assessment office replied back that the proposal is not complete. They stated that the project was lacking important information on effects on vegetation, fish and wildlife ecosystems. Five years later, project developers submitted an additional application addressing these environmental issues. In the next two months, after public consultations, Whistler opposed the project in a letter. Most importantly, they referred to a 1974 report that ruled out elevations below 555 meter for skiing. My task was to act as a natural resource planner who has been retained by British Columbia Snowmobile Federation, who initially opposed the project. I had to examine Environmental Assessment’s recommendations and Whistler’s criticism to figure out if there still is sufficient evidence to oppose the project, or if the concerns can be addressed as part of the project.

project location

Map 1 – Project location in relation to communities, highways and provincial parks | source: lab instructions

Here are steps I took to analyze data and assess environmental impact of the project:

1. Acquiring Data: Searched in DataBC for data and downloaded two data layers in addition to getting data that was provided by our instructor from G:Drive.

2. Parsing Data: Created a geodatabase to organize my data in.

3. Filtering Data: Clipped vector and raster data to fit my project boundaries.

4. Mining Data: Reclassified the DEM, merged polygons and created buffers for more accurate and easier calculations.

5. Representing Data: Produced a final map in ArcGIS, adding basic map elements.

Map 2 shows the areas that should be protected from this project in addition to a 3D surface visualization in Map 3. My analysis showed that there are still reasons to oppose this project. Approximately 30% of the area has below 555 meter elevation and according to Whistler’s letter this area is useless for ski trails. Moreover, 55.5% of the proposed project area falls under protected areas and nothing could be built in those areas. It is important to note that these two criteria overlap in some cases; however, they still cover a significant area within the project boundary. Therefore, there’s barely has enough space for developments.

Sayna_lab5

Map 2 – Environmental impact assessment of the project

 

Hillshade (1)

Map 3 – 3D surface

Having studied ecology, I believe that humans should preserve environmentally sensitive areas not only for managing resources but also because of our moral obligations to other species. Most important ethical concerns in project development is 1) destruction of natural habitats since it could change the ecosystem significantly; and 2) destroying endangered species could result in irreversible ecological consequences. These two are both seen in the future of this project and the only way to avoid them is to not build anything in these areas.

Accomplishment statement:

Applied the 7 stages of data visualization to my project: acquiring, parsing, filtering, mining, representing, refining and interacting of the data

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *